Due to his smaller frame, many people complained when the Steelers took Markus Wheaton in Round 3. Many felt like the Steelers needed to add a larger pass-catcher to their wide receiver corps instead of the former Oregon State Beaver. Well thankfully for those “Negative Nancys,” Colbert & Co. bolstered Pittsburgh’s offense when they selected Justin Brown of Oklahoma with the first of their 6th round picks.
Some members of “Steeler Nation” might be familiar with Brown due to the fact that he started his career at Penn State. A two-year starter with the Nittany Lions, Brown recorded a combined 68 catches for 969 yards and 3 touchdowns during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Brown however transferred to Oklahoma in the spring of last year after the fallout from the horrific “Jerry Sandusky Scandal.”
Going to the pass-happy Sooners definitely helped Brown improve from a productivity standpoint as he made 73 catches for 879 yards and 5 touchdowns. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Brown worked extensively with Pittsburgh’s new backup quarterback, Landry Jones.
An experienced receiver, Justin started 39 consecutive games over the last three years, and his height (6’3″ 207 lbs.) and frame should make him a terrific red zone target for Ben Roethlisberger.
Although Brown is not necessarily a “burner” in terms of his raw speed (4.59 40 time at pro day), he can definitely stretch the field vertically. While raw, Brown definitely has the tools to develop into a solid pass-catcher if he works on his fundamentals like route-running and blocking.
Of course, Brown will have to compete with Plaxico Burress to earn a roster spot, but I think that Pittsburgh’s coaching staff will give him the nod due to his versatility as a punt returner. Brown returned 49 punts for 519 yards and 1 touchdown during his final two collegiate seasons, and he averaged an impressive 13.6 yards per punt return last year with the Sooners.
At least to me, this is a solid depth pick by Colbert & Co., and a wise choice to make due to the fact that Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton will be the only wide-receivers on the roster signed through the 2013 season. Then when I factor in Brown’s possible role on special teams, I like the selection even more.
Final Grade: B
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