Draft Picks:
1) OG David DeCastro
2) OT Mike Adams
3) ILB Sean Spence
4) NT Alameda Ta’amu
5) RB Chris Rainey
7a) WR Toney Clemons
7b) TE David Paulson
7c) CB Terrence Frederick
7d) OT Kelvin Beachum

Depth Chart

Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Draft Picks

For once, the Steelers actually did the popular thing: they drafted an offensive lineman first and then again in the second round. The team hadn't drafted O-linemen 1-2 since 1968.

What stands out for me is the value - immense value of those two picks and some others. #1 pick DeCastro wasn't even considered a possibility by the team and #2 pick Adams had a first round grade on him based on his on-field performance.

In round #4, the Steelers got a pure nose tackle in Ta'amu who some predicted the Steelers would take in round #2. So, again the team found great value for players that they had targeted in higher rounds. The Steelers didn't bottom fish with these picks.

For the value at the top the draft, this is one of the best in recent memory. 3 years out will determine how the lower rounds developed, but on draft day the Steelers seem to have improved their team in several areas over the 2011 squad.


1st Round - David DeCastro Offensive Guard, Stanford, 6'5", 315#

Year-end Evaluation: After recovering from a knee injury, Decastro was plugged in to the Right Guard position and immediately looked better than anyone at that spot in at least 10 years. He is smart, aggressive, light on his feet and technically sound. He just needs to get better playing alongside Centerman Pouncey and they will be an awesome duo. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Evaluation: DeCastro got rolled up by Marcus Gilbert in the pre-season and has been out with a bad MCL sprain all season. Trend: Down

Draft Day Impressions: The Steeler army should be revving up to write a new fight song with all the excitement from this pick!

The 'Burgh will love this guy: a tenacious technician who is a winner through and through. He dominated at Stanford and had the best agility tests of any lineman at the Combine. He was a three year starter who is very polished and ready to play from Day 1. His grade of 96.88% in 2011 was the highest mark by any offensive lineman in Pac-12 Conference history (since 1985).

Undoubtedly, DeCastro was the #1 Offensive guard in this draft and unbelievably he fell to the Steelers at #24. The Steelers were super thin at Guard already and they are very fortunate to draft one of the best Guards to come along in several years. Some analysts predicted he would be a top 10 selection! GM Kevin Colbert even said the team was considering trading up to get him.

I see this pick as finally replacing All-Pro OG Alan Fanaca. Now, the O-line should be dominant again with OC Pouncey and OT Gilbert alongside DeCastro who played Right Guard in college but may play Left Guard with the Steelers.

This is one of the best picks the Steelers have made in the first round as far as I can remember.

Draft Day Grade: A+

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead: LB Dont'a Hightower (Patriots), OG Kevin Zeitler (Bengals), LB Nick Perry (Packers)

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2nd Round - Mike Adams Offensive Tackle, Ohio St., 6'7", 325#

Year-end Evaluation: Adams is an outstanding run blocker who can move quickly to block linebackers or block down on defensive linemen. His trouble is in pass protection. Some have said he isn't strong in the upper body. What I see is a lineman who loses agressiveness when pass blocking which is correctable. Adams could be starting at right Tackle in 2013. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Evaluation: After an extremely shaky pre-season, Admas has been pressed into duty becasue of an injury to Right Tackle Marcus Gilbert. At times, Adams looks slow footed in pass-protection but in run blocking he is very quick to get to the second level and block linebackers, safeties and corners. Adams needs to adjust his game to the Pro-level and get stronger in the upper body for pass-protection. To Adams' credit, the running game has picked up since he has been in the lineup, producing 100-yard rushers for the last 3 games. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: This pick solidifies a previously shaky offensive line for the Steelers. For the last 2-3 years, the team has brought in free agents off the street (Flozel Adams and Max Starks), started undrafted free agents (Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky), and taken cast offs from other teams (Justin Hartwig and Jonathan Scott) and yet still managed to make the Playoffs every year.

This pick also is a promotion of sorts for Offensive Line coach Sean Kugler who has nicely coached recent high draft picks OC Pouncey and OT Gilbert into starting linemen. For the last several years, Coach Kugler had to endure coaching slow-footed, more passive, mountainous linemen (OG Chris Kemoatau comes to mind easily). That was the Russ Grimm legacy. Now, the line is being remade in Kugler's image: strong, nimble, aggressive and smart.

However, this pick is risky. Despite the enormous physical potential of this young man, he has a history of injuries and discipline problems. He has had foot, knee and shoulder injuries shorten his season each of the last 3 years. Adams was caught up in "tattoo-gate" at Ohio St. and he was arrested for possessing pot smoking accessories although the charges were later dropped. Then, he failed the drug test at the combine...yoi, double yoi!

This is a boom or bust type of pick as Adams has 1st round ability and a checkered past. But with OT Willie Colon going down with season-ending injuries during the first game of the last two seasons, the Steelers need to start looking to the future at Right Tackle. That future looks to be Mike Adams.

If Adams stays off the weed, this pick will smell sweet!

Draft day grade: B+

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead: LB Lavonte David (Buccaneers), OT Kelechi Osemele (Ravens),

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3rd Round - Sean Spence Inside Linebacker, Miami (FL), 5'11", 230#

Year-end Evaluation: There are hopes that Spence can recover from injury and contribute in 2013. The team has a need at inside linebacker. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Evaluation: Spence was having a great pre-season until he blew up his knee without being touched. He is on IR and will miss all of 2012. Trend: Down

Draft Day Impressions: A solid pick that fills a position of need since James Farrior was released.

Spence was the team captain at Miami and clearly its best defensive player. He is a bit short but the game is changing. No longer do middle linebackers regularly need to plug running lanes or take on pulling guards. The more common match up is against a back running routes or covering a tight end.

Spence's strengths seems to be quickness, intelligence and diagnosing plays quickly. He should play special teams exclusively his rookie year while he learns the complicated Steelers D.

This feels more like a "need" pick rather than a value pick.

Draft day grade: B-

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4th Round - Alameda Ta’amu Nose Tackle, Washington, 6'2", 345#

Year-end Evaluation: Ta'amu will have to work hard in the off-season to compensate for his very disapointing season in which he never saw the field. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Evaluation: Oy! The guy didn't display much push while playing. But according to Pittsburgh Police, he was quite effective out running officers on the street during his arrest for DUI on the historic South Side late one night. Trend: Way Down

Draft Day Impressions: Ta'amu is just what the doctor ordered because 2011 nose tackles Chris Hoke retired and Casey Hampton is 35 plus recovering from ACL surgery.

This is a BIG boy -- a legitimate space eater, block eater, double-teamer, whatever you want to call him. He's big and yet shows surprising agility and foot speed for such an enormous man. But he won't be expected to rush the passer at all. He's strictly a run stopper and disrupter of blocking schemes inside.

With Ta'amu in front of him, 3rd round pick Sean Spence and other inside LB's will be able to diagnose and quickly fly to the ball to make tackles.

Many draft projections had Ta'amu going in the second or third round. With some teams leaving the 3-4 defensive scheme and the ever-evolving emphasis on defending formations with 3 or more wide outs, 3-4 nose tackles may have been considered less valuable this year.

Nonetheless, the Steelers saw value in the fourth round so much so that they traded up (a rarity in the later rounds for them) to get Ta'amu. The Steelers had to give up their 6th round pick to move up 10 spots to get their man.

Finally, the big boy is a Samoan. The Steelers have a successful history of drafting Polynesians over the years, Troy Polamalu most famously.

Draft day grade: A

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5th Round - Chris Rainey Running Back, Florida, 5'8", 180#

Year-end Evaluation: Rainey provided some sparks on Special Teams with his returns, but he is no running back in the conventional sense. He catches well and can make people miss but he won't square up with any defender. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Evaluation: Rainey is an exciting, confident football player who excels with the football in his hands. He can return kicks, punts, catch passes and run the ball. He has a nice role in the current Steelers offense thanks to Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: Rainey is a 3rd down back who also will be a match up problem for linebackers when he runs passing routes out of the backfield.

He played the multi-purpose Percy Harvin roleat Florida and became the first player in school history to record a rushing, receiving & return touchdown in the same game. Rainey has excellent speed and agility, running the fastest 40 time (4.45) of any running back at the combine.

With Mewelde Moore gone, the job of third down back is up for grabs. Rainey will compete with Barron Batch for the job.

He also will be tested as a punt & kick returner which the Steelers need since Antonio Brown will focus his abundant energy on being a full-time wideout.

My greatest concern is: can Rainey pick up blitzing linebackers? The team was first interested in RB Isaiah Pead, who was taken by the Rams in the 2nd round.

Overall, very good value in the 5th round.

Draft day grade: A-

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7th Round - Toney Clemons, Wide Receiver Colorado, 6'2, 210#

Year-end Evaluation: Big Toney never made it onto the field. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Evaluation: Hands and consistency were a problem for Mr. Clemons. He is on the practice squad.Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: The first name is unique. A Pittsburgh native from New Kensington who was on the P-G's "Fab-22" team in 2007. His cousin is WR Steve Breaston, who plays for the KC Chiefs, Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley's former team.

NFL.com had him graded as a 6th round pick. Nice size, supposedly great speed (4.36-40), and great leaping ability but his hands seem to be an issue. He could be used on kickoff returns.

Clemons reminds me of a poor man's Dwayne Bowe who was the #1 receiver in Kansas City when Steeler OC Todd Haley was the head coach there. Oh, what a tangled web it is!

Draft day grade: B+

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7th Round - David Paulson, Tight End, Oregon, 6'3", 245#

Year-end Evaluation: Paulson could have been the team's best Rookie. He was consistent and didn't get hurt, playing in all 16 games. He was the #2 Tight end by the end of the season. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Evaluation: Paulson is the biggest surprise for me in this draft class. He has supplanted Wesley Saunders on the team and moved past Leonard Pope on the depth chart. He has yet to catch a TD, but he has confidence from his coaches and teammates to be responsible whenever he is on the field. Trend: Way Up

Draft Day Impressions: Slow and average size. An average athlete who is a 100% effort guy. Still, why draft him? What is the attraction? Will he displace David Johnson as the H-back?

Draft day grade: D

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7th Round - Terrence Frederick, Cornerback, Texas A&M, 5'10, 185#

Mid-Season Evaluation: Cut in Pre-season . Trend: Down and out.

Draft Day Impressions: This pick looks to be an attempt to fill the shoes of William Gay who was best playing in the slot.

Draft day grade: C

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7th Round - Kevin Beachum, Offensive Guard, SMU, 6'2", 305

Year-end Evaluation: Beachum played admirably at Right Tackle for several games. At first, he was overmatched as a pass blocker, but he improved. In run blocking he was adequate but showed good leverage and movement at times. In general, quite a pleasnt surprise compared to what I saw of him in the pre-season. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Evaluation: Beachum looks slow and weak. He gives up sacks, commits false start penalties and doesn't get any movement on run plays. Why he made the team is a mystery to me. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: Beachum played Tackle at SMU but he will almost certainly be moved to guard where the Steelers need some depth. His college teammate, Guard Josh LeRibeus, was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the third round.

Draft day grade: B+


©Mark Berger,