Ohio State DE Heyward No. 1 Steelers pick
Ohio State defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (center) pressures Ohio University quarterback Boo Jackson (8) during the first quarter of a 2008 game.
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Maybe not as good a story as the Pouncey twins, but the Steelers played their own game of all in the family when they drafted Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward on the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
Born in Pittsburgh, he follows in the shoes of his father, the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, a Pitt running back who also was drafted in the first round, by the New Orleans Saints at No. 24 in 1988. His mother, Charlotte Heyward-Blackwell, is a Pittsburgh native.
"I know he's watching," Heyward said of his father. "I'm going to try to do everything to make him proud of me and live his legacy on."
Heyward, who lived in Monroeville as a youngster, has plenty of family in Pittsburgh, including uncle Nate Heyward, who followed in his brother Craig's shoes as a running back at Pitt.
"Aunts, grandparents, uncle ... I know Pittsburgh pretty well," said Heyward, who currently lives in Suwanee, Ga., and said he visits Pittsburgh twice annually.
"I've always loved the team, I'm from there ... To be somewhere you want to be is an unbelievable feeling."
Steelers officials say they were overjoyed to draft Heyward and never thought of anyone else when their turn came at No. 31.
"We feel this is one of those special players I talked about the other day," said Kevin Colbert, the team's director of football operations. "It's hard to find a hole with this guy. This is a special moment."
Heyward (6 feet 51/2, 288 pounds) is the second defensive end drafted on the first round by the Steelers in the past three years and their third consecutive lineman. They took defensive end Ziggy Hood No. 1 in 2009 and center Maurkice Pouncey last year.
"Fortifying the line of scrimmage," coach Mike Tomlin called it.
Heyward started all four seasons at Ohio State and was a Lombardi Award semifinalist last season for the best defensive lineman in the country. Tomlin called him an "A-Plus" in character and said he can push the pocket, rush the passer and stop the run.
He has earned his degree from Ohio State, so he will be eligible to participate in all the Steelers' spring practices and workouts (provided there is no further lockout).
"He's not only a mature young man, he's a mature player," Tomlin said. "I think he's capable of doing it all."
The Steelers chances to get one of their most highly rated prospects improved when four quarterbacks were drafted in the first dozen picks, two more than almost anyone had predicted. A handful of other picks -- Seattle's choice of guard/tackle James Carpenter, Kansas City picking Pitt wide receiver Jon Baldwin and New Orleans taking running back Mark Ingram -- also aided the Steelers.
"Every pick that comes off of guys we wouldn't be considering, our odds increased" of getting the player they wanted, Colbert said.
They resisted trading away valuable draft choices to move higher in the first round, as at least one report on NFL.com said they were trying to do to draft Maurkice Pouncey's twin, Mike. The Miami Dolphins drafted the center-guard with the 15th pick.
Colbert said they received only mild inquiries from other teams to trade and never made any serious offers of their own.
• What: Rounds 2 and 3.
• Time: 6 p.m.
• TV: ESPN & NFL Network.
First Published April 29, 2011 12:43 am