Pittsburgh Steelers: Baron Batch

Steelers' draft review: 2011

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
PITTSBURGH -- The is the fifth in a series that reviews the Steelers' drafts under general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin.

Next up is the 2011 draft.

Total picks: 7

[+] EnlargeCameron Heyward
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsCameron Heyward came into his own last season, notching 59 tackles and five sacks.
Picks still with the team: 4

Best pick: DE Cameron Heyward. The penultimate pick of the first round didn't play much his first two seasons but really emerged in 2013 when he cracked the starting lineup after the first four games. Heyward established himself as one of the Steelers' best defensive players as well as the cornerstone of a line that is in transition. Heyward played well against the run in 2013 and also provided the Steelers with an inside pass-rusher as he led the team with 31 quarterback pressures and also recorded five sacks. The former Ohio State star is among the players the Steelers will build around on defense.

Worst pick: CB Curtis Brown. The third-round selection never developed into more than a special-teams contributor and the Steelers released him last month. Brown never started a game in three seasons and was credited with just eight tackles and one pass defended in 34 career games. The Steelers' miss on this pick is one reason why they are thin at cornerback -- and why they are likely to draft two players at that position this year.

Best value pick: CB Cortez Allen. The fourth-round selection from The Citadel has the potential to become a shut-down cornerback and has at least shown, when healthy, that he can be a quality starter. Allen has similarities to Ike Taylor, from the round they were taken in to the fact that each came from a small school and developed fairly quickly. Like Taylor, the 6-1, 196-pound Allen has good size, and he rebounded from a high-ankle sprain last season to intercept two passes and lead the Steelers with 14 passes defended.

Also of note: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert, a second-round pick, was the only Steelers' offensive lineman to start every game last season … Guard Keith Williams, a sixth-round pick, is the only player in this class never to have appeared in a game for the Steelers. Williams played two games for the Bills and is currently toiling in the Arena Football League … Running back Baron Batch created a buzz during his first training camp before tearing his ACL. Batch rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in 2012 but the Steelers released the seventh-round pick last August and he remains unsigned.

Final analysis/grade: This quietly has turned into a decent draft for the Steelers, especially if Gilbert convinces the team he has a long-term future in Pittsburgh. Heyward and Allen are players the Steelers will build around on defense and the only glaring miss was the Brown selection. I'll give the Steelers a B- for this haul.

Baron Batch was bad fit for Steelers

August, 26, 2013
Le'Veon Bell’s foot injury probably cost third-year running back Baron Batch any chance of making the Steelers. Batch was among the players cut Sunday as the Steelers trimmed their roster to 75 players, and he was simply a luxury the team couldn’t afford with its running game in such flux.

You can win with players like Baron Batch. He is excellent on special teams and is a more than willing and able blocker, especially when it comes to blitzing linebackers. The former seventh-round pick does all of the little things well and has a heart the size of his native Texas.

Batch would be an ideal fourth running back on a team that has a feature back since he could play primarily on special teams and provide injury insurance. But he wasn’t a good fit on a team that will go with a running back by committee -– at least until Bell is healthy and able to fill the role of feature back.

Releasing Batch before the final cut might have come as a surprise to some Steelers fans. But it is probably a measure of how highly the Steelers think of Batch, as a person and a professional. The timing of his release gives Batch a chance to catch on somewhere else and get a couple of days to impress his new team.

The release of Stevenson Sylvester, the other veteran cut on Sunday, leaves the Steelers with very little experience behind Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote at inside linebacker.

It all but assures Marshall McFadden and rookie Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick last April, of making the 53-man roster.

The only draft pick right now that won’t make the 53-man roster is seventh-rounder Nick Williams, who has been shut down by a knee injury. The Steelers liked enough of what they saw from Williams, a defensive end, that they put him on the reserve/injured list instead of the waived/injured list.

Cornerback Terry Hawthorne (fifth round) and wide receiver Justin Brown (sixth round) are battling for roster spots, and I think Hawthorne makes the team, but Brown might have too much to overcome -- namely his former Penn State teammate Derek Moye and the real possibility that the Steelers only keep four wide receivers.

Moye appears to have separated himself among the wide receivers who aren't a lock to make the team. But he could get caught in a numbers cruch if the Steelers have to carry an extra tight end or running back because of injuries.