Steeler Nation, Grade Your Draft Picks: Rounds 4 & 5

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5th Round, 150th Overall: Terry Hawthorne

Oct 6, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Illinnois Fighting Illini defensive back Terry Hawthorne (1) during the second quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The 150th pick overall was a result of what I call the ‘Keenan Lewis Ripple.’  When Lewis left for NOLA, the Steelers unavoidably had a hole to fill in the #2 or #3 slots.  Cortez Allen would either move to the #2 slot in the depth chart and keep that job, or slide back to the #3 slot with the Steelers needing a free agent or draft pick to fill #3 – aka Will Willie William Gay.  There’s no way Curtis Brown would be able to make the leap to either one of those slots.  With the selection of Hawthorne in the 5th Round, the Steelers are banking on Allen holding the #2 slot with Hawthorne and Gay fighting for #3.

Hawthorne is a solid value pick going in the 5th.  He is more of a development project than a guy who would start at #3.  Taking the inevitable injuries into consideration, there will be shuffling going on.  I’m banking on Gay not having a great return to Pittsburgh, so that’s why I think Hawthorne will play a bigger role in 2013 than many would anticipate.  Dom has this to say of Hawthorne:

I for one believe that it was a smart move by Colbert & Co. to take a player like Hawthorne for depth and developmental purposes.  He fits the prototypical mold (6′ 195 lbs., 4.44 speed) of a starting outside cornerback in Pittsburgh’s defense, and Terry will definitely stick his nose into the fray to tackle ball-carriers and wide receivers.  Overall, the former Fighting Illini cornerback racked up 105 tackles over the last two seasons to go along with 9.0 tackles for loss, but he will likely need to add a little bit of weight to his overall frame and some added strength to fight off blocks.  Hopefully though, Hawthorne can keep himself out of harm’s way, because he sustained a scary injury last year after an open-field hit.  While Hawthorne’s hands are not the greatest, he still recorded 6 over his four-year career including 3 during his productive junior campaign.  But hey, it’s not like Ike, Gay, or Keenan Lewis possessed the most reliable hands either.  While Terry can play press-coverage, he should be at his best on the outside in a zone-heavy scheme due to his speed and tenacity to react and make plays on the ball.

Dom also notes another upswing of Hawthorne is that he could return some punts or kicks.  As I mentioned, Hawthorne is a project player, but expect to see him sooner than later as the Steelers will more than likely have some struggles in the secondary either due to injury or performance.  Question is – will Hawthorne be up the challenge of covering slot men while still adapting to Dick LeBeau’s complex defense?

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Tags: Featured Landry Jones Pittsburgh Steelers Popular Shamarko Thomas Terry Hawthorne