It’s been a week since the NFL draft, and now that the dust has settled and most of my predictions proved wrong, it seems as good a time as any to take a look at some first impressions of the Steelers’ 2012 draft class.
Obviously, it’s impossible to evaluate any of these players given that they have yet to step on an NFL field, but I’ll do my best to present a few initial thoughts on how these rookies can help the Steelers in 2012.
First Round- David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
Most people thought that DeCastro had the talent to be taken much earlier in the first round, but many of the teams at the top of the round didn’t have a particularly pressing need at the position, so he fell to Pittsburgh. By all accounts, the team seemed thrilled to grab him here, and I’ve heard many people call him the next Alan Faneca. While it may be a little early to anoint him as a perennial Pro Bowler already, it certainly can’t hurt to have him to bolster the left side of the line, and maybe even give the running game the ability to convert in short yardage situations. Mostly, it seems that this was a great value pick and should instantly upgrade an offensive line that has desperately needed some attention for years.
Second Round- Mike Adams, Tackle, Ohio State
This pick is a little shakier. By all accounts this is still a great value, considering that Adams could’ve gone in the first round if not for his off the field issues, but it’s worth wondering if the team really needed to address the line with its first two picks. They just moved Marcus Gilbert to left tackle, so now it’s unclear whether the team will stick with that and put Adams at right tackle or if they plan to let Adams take over on the left side. In either case, it represents yet another big step toward making this line a strength of the team rather than a weakness. It remains to be seen if Adams can put it all together, so this pick is probably the biggest risk of any the team made, but it could also have a huge payoff.
Third Round- Sean Spence, Outside Linebacker, Miami (FL)
When I first heard this pick announced, my initial reaction was exasperation. The Tomlin regime absolutely LOVES picking outside linebackers, whether the team has a need there or not, and when I was hoping they’d grab a running back here, they went for yet another OLB. But the more I’ve heard about Spence, the better I feel. Some seem to think that he has the quickness to move inside and take over for Larry Foote, and even if he can’t, he can at least provide some depth at the position. I’m still not wild about it, but I can live with it.
Fourth Round- Alameda Ta’amu, Defensive Tackle, Washington
Ta’amu may not be the most athletic specimen in the world, but the team believed in him enough to trade up for him in the hopes that he can take over for Casey Hampton at nose tackle. Most scouts seem to believe that he has the frame to become a run stopper in the 3-4, and since Hampton is getting up there at 35, it makes sense to start investing in the position now. He may not necessarily be the perfect long term solution, but he can immediately start to lessen the load on the whole defensive line, and hopefully learn enough from Hampton to take over sometime soon.
Fifth Round- Chris Rainey, Running Back, Florida
I knew that the team would be after another running back in this draft, but I was surprised that they would wait this long to get one. Nevertheless, Rainey is an interesting pick here, given that he has value not only as a runner, but also as a receiver and a returner. For all of his strengths, Isaac Redman has never done much in the passing game, so Rainey could provide a nice change of pace on third down. I’m not sure he’s the real complementary back Redman needs to help him out, considering that he’s never started over a whole season, but he definitely adds an exciting element to the offense. Besides, it helps that former Florida teammates Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert will be around to help him develop, so it should be a good environment for him.
All in all, it was one of the team’s better drafts in the past years, addressing current needs while also helping the team prepare for the future.
For the moment, I’m feeling pretty good about the team, and with the recent news that Terrell Suggs could miss all of 2012, it’s a good time to be a Steelers fan.Back to the Pittsburgh Steelers Newsfeed