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Steelers sit tight in draft, like their results

The Pittsburgh Steelers watched teams zoom up past them in the draft. They saw others fall back below them in a given round. And team brass even fielded calls from other clubs eager to deal.

But none of that mattered. All that did, was that Pittsburgh relied on of few constants, and held firm.

Throughout this unique draft — held during the on-again, off-again lockout — dozens of trades were consummated with teams moving all over the place. Some even did so repeatedly, in an effort to get their targeted guy or to stockpile extra picks.

The Steelers didn't join in. They were secure in the fact they could sit tight and get the players they wanted.

In the end, they feel they did just that.

"It's much easier to just sit and let them come to us," said Kevin Colbert, the team's director of football operations, "because usually that's when you get the best results."

For the first time since 2005, the Steelers did not make a draft-day trade. Adding to their predictability of picking near the very bottom of every round, was the fact the reigning AFC champions hadn't made any pre-draft trades of picks or for picks.

So, come the 31st pick of every round (until the seventh and final round, when they chose 29th), Pittsburgh was there and ready, confident in the player they were going to choose.

"This draft really broke well for getting good players that we feel fit and have a good chance to contribute," Colbert said. "We got them in spots where we thought we may get them. But, we didn't reach for anything to fill a hole."

Under Colbert, the Steelers haven't been shy about moving up in virtually any round when after a specific player. The team also has traded down at times over the years.

But Pittsburgh made its final four picks on Saturday with little fanfare. They added another cornerback and an offensive lineman, and just stayed out of the mix.

The Steelers also took an outside linebacker, Chris Carter of Fresno State, and a running back in Texas Tech's Baron Batch.

Pittsburgh's first two picks Saturday — cornerback Cortez Allen of The Citadel and Carter — were seen as developmental, long-term prospects who likely won't make an immediate impact, but could have high upside down the road.

It worked out well the previous time the Steelers took a raw cornerback in the fourth round who took up football late and went to a small college. Ike Taylor was taken No. 124 overall out of Louisiana Lafayette in 2004, and has been Pittsburgh's top cornerback on three Super Bowl teams.

The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Allen was selected No. 128. He joins Curtis Brown of Texas (6-0, 185) as corners the Steelers added this weekend.

"We like the upside in both," coach Mike Tomlin said. "They have different body types, but similar job descriptions."

Taylor is an unrestricted free agent, adding to the potential woes at a position that was already considered a weakness on what was the NFL's No. 2 total defense and No. 1 scoring defense last season.

Bryant McFadden and William Gay were the other primary corners last season, as each was mediocre. Pittsburgh has now spent five draft picks over the last three seasons on cornerbacks. None of the first three distinguished himself: Crezdon Butler, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett (who is no longer with the team).

"I think any time we can strengthen the secondary it is going to help us tremendously," secondary coach Carnell Lake said. "I think this is a good start for us. I'm hoping that they can come in and help us right away."

Carter, a fifth-round choice, was another example of the Steelers stockpiling players at what has traditionally been their glamor position on defense: outside linebacker.

The first two draft picks the team made when Tomlin took over in 2007 were outside linebackers (although Lawrence Timmons has played mostly on the inside). The team has taken seven over the first five drafts under Tomlin. Still with the team are starters Timmons and LaMarr Woodley and last season's second round pick, Jason Worilds.

Like Worilds, Woodley and Pittsburgh Pro Bowlers before him such as Joey Porter and Jason Gildon, Carter was a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme in college whom the Steelers are converting to 3-4 outside linebacker.

"Guys like that, when they play at defensive end, usually have to line up over an offensive tackle," Pittsburgh linebackers coach Keith Butler said. "They don't have to make formation adjustments. This will be the biggest obstacle that he will have to overcome in terms of recognizing formations and exactly where we want to line up.

"I think he'll be OK. But, it's going to take a couple of years for him."

That timetable has the potential for being extended because of the lockout and the fact that, as it stands, there will be no minicamp or OTAs, and the start of training camp might be delayed.

Pittsburgh offensive line coach Sean Kugler said Williams, a sixth-round pick, "has some nasty to him." He has a reputation for being a strong run-blocker, but needs to work on his pass protection to succeed at the NFL level.

Williams joined Marcus Gilbert of Florida, a second rounder, as offensive linemen added by the Steelers.

"They are different types of players, but ... both have qualities that we like," Kugler said. "They're both smart kids, I think they're both going to fit well in the room, and they've got offensive lineman personalities. I think they're both going to be good Steeler-types for years to come."

Batch, a 5-10, 210-pound seventh rounder, is expected to compete for a spot as the Steelers' third-down back after compiling 2,501 rushing yards and 3,612 all-purpose yards in college.

"He was an excellent running back in a Texas Tech offense that's really like a third-down offense in the NFL," Colbert said. "His ability as a receiver catching the ball was very impressive to us."

A year after drafting five underclassmen, all seven of Pittsburgh's picks were college seniors.