Since the 2011 NFL Combine, I have spent hours pouring through draft prospect profiles and game clips on as many top ranked draft hopefuls that match the needs that the Steelers have. My second Steelers mock draft reflects that work, but one player in that mock has caught my eye more than any other. That player is Texas cornerback Curtis Brown. Brown also carries two nicknames, "Turkey" and "Jordan". While at Texas, Brown made 28 starts and played in 52 games while wearing a Longhorn uniform. He intercepted two passes, had 32 pass unofficial pass break ups, forced one fumble and registered 3 thrown for losses. In addition to his cover skills, Brown also made 120 tackles, 86 of which were solo. If his defensive play was not enough, Brown also played on every special team during his career. Certainly a plus as far as what the Steelers look for in young player.
While at Texas, Brown matched up against current NFL receivers Dez Bryant and Michael Crabtree. His first career start came against Bryant, who he held to just 74 yards on 6 catches in 2008. Brown did not fare as good against Crabtrree the following week and he missed a tackle on a last-second, game winning pass play to Crabtree. Brown certainly learned from that experience I am sure as that loss was heart breaking. In addition to the opposing talent he faced on game days, Brown also went up against Jordan Shipley in practices. Shipley was drafted by the Bengals in 2010 and has had a pretty good start to his career in limited playing time.
Including Brown, Texas has three cornerbacks who all look to be drafted in the top half of the draft as Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown are also draft eligible. Williams looks to be a better fit as a free safety at the next level, while Chykie is regarded as a 4th or 5th round talent. At his recent Pro Day, Brown participated in some drills despite being sick with the flu. He stood on his combine measurables and at least gave it a go. The coaches and scouts pretty much saw what they needed to see from him a few months ago, but likely appreciated the effort.
Of course I am not the only one that Brown has caught the eye of as he seems to turned quite a few heads since the praising Deion Sanders gave him during the defensive back drills during the NFL Network combine coverage. Since that time, Brown seems to be inching his way up the analyst draft boards and easily in the second tier of the cornerbacks in this years draft class. Brown loves man-to-man and press, but also looks like he can adapt to zone and cover 2 coverages as well. His tackling skills are above average and he is not afraid to come up and hit the ball carrier. This will really help him stick out in the second tier group of corners. Like most young corners he needs some technique work, but new Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake showed at UCLA he can work with young talent and Brown would be a great first student. Brown lacks the elite speed, but breaks fast on the football and also shows good awareness and recognition. He looks like a complete corner that could contribute instantly only special teams as well as sub package situations at the nickel spot. He plays bigger than his size with his great leaping ability.
The draft is still a good 27 days away as I write this and Brown is scheduled to make a pre draft visit to Pittsburgh. There will still be quite a bit of shuffling with the top 40 players overall and Brown should easily crack that in my opinion, if he hasn't already. The Steelers pick at 31 and the corner position certainly will be in play in either the first or second round for them. It is not out of the question that by draft night, the Steelers could call his name in the first round. The Steelers will also entertain several phone calls when they are on the clock and it is not out of the question that they trade down a handful of spots to take Brown in the first part of round two. Should they miss out on him altogether, I think Brown will be a name you will be hearing for quite a few years. Who knows, the Steelers might just catch them a Turkey on draft night to play corner for the next several years. I really think he best fits what the Steelers look for in a corner where they draft at. Should the Steelers draft him in the first or second round, several in Steeler Nation will be celebrating as if it is Thanksgiving. Me included.
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