Fans' plea for a CB is answered
April 29,2011
By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest

And so it came to be that at the end of the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft, Steelers Nation got what it has wanted for months. Their favorite team picked a cornerback.

The guy’s name is Curtis Brown, and he’s from Texas, a 6-foot, 185-pound cover corner who probably was available to the Steelers at the end of the third round because his build is a little on the slight side.

The selection of Brown ended a day in which the Steelers placated their fan base with this third-round pick and put a smile on the face of their Pro Bowl center with their second pick.

“Curtis Brown is a quick cornerback from Texas who probably was their best cover-corner coming out,” said defensive backs coach Carnell Lake. “(Texas) had three cornerbacks coming out this year: Aaron Williams was the first corner taken, and Curtis was selected by us in the third. Although Aaron, his teammate, is bigger, we thought more of Aaron as a safety and we think Curtis is a cover-corner who can play the nickel, as well as play at the outside position.”

The third Texas cornerback in this draft is Chykie Brown, who was undrafted through the first three rounds.

One round before adding Brown, the Steelers selected Marcus Gilbert, an offensive lineman from Florida who played every position except center during his time in Gainesville, a period of five years during which he became Maurkice Pouncey’s second-favorite teammate, after his identical twin brother Mike.

“Maurkice was a big advocate for Marcus, as he was for his brother,” said offensive line coach Sean Kugler. “Maurkice is going to tell you how it is, and of course I’ll take his advice because I respect him as a player, and he’ll give you the right advice. He shoots it straight.”

The Steelers have a recent history with Florida offensive linemen, and it has been a successful one. Max Starks, a starting tackle on the teams that win Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII, was picked on the third round in 2004, and then there is Pouncey, the No. 1 pick in 2010 who is looking like the next in a long line of great Steelers centers. This kind of success can build a level of confidence in other players coming through the same program.

“I just like taking trips down to Florida each spring to work these guys out,” cracked Kugler. “Marcus is a player who has played four positions, both tackle and guard positions. We have a lot of feedback on him, not only this year, but also last year when we were evaluating Maurkice Pouncey and then this year when we were evaluating Mike Pouncey. He’s a high energy player, he’s athletic, he plays the game physical the way we like, and we feel he can play different positions for us. It’s also an added bonus that he and Maurkice are best buds. There is chemistry there, and that chemistry is a big thing in the offensive line room.”

The cry from Steelers fans for a cornerback reached a crescendo after Aaron Rodgers passed for three touchdowns in Super Bowl XLV, and the situation there is exacerbated by the fact that both Ike Taylor and William Gay had their contracts expire in March. Then when the Steelers’ AFC North Division rivals all added receivers during the first three rounds of this draft – Cincinnati with A.J. Green, Baltimore with Torrey Smith and Cleveland with Greg Little – the need at the position seemed even more pressing.

“I think he’s got good hands,” said Lake about Brown. “I think that opponents picked on his teammates more than him, because when you look at it, teams just didn’t throw a lot his way. And I thought that was because Curtis’ coverage skills were better. He’s probably able to contribute faster because he’s more developed than his teammates.

“Being that Ike’s name is being brought up, I hope we get him signed. I think Ike is probably one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the league. He does a very good job of chuck and run, and that’s a rare talent. If we can somehow find a way to get Ike back and get Curtis involved, that will just strengthen an already strong secondary.”

And help Steelers fans sleep peacefully at night.

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