Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis
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Starting on Thursday night and until the last pick is announced on Saturday, each and every pick the Steelers make will be reported on, analyzed and graded here—with a final, comprehensive look at the team's entire haul once the draft has come to a close.
So make sure you bookmark this page, refresh it often and keep checking back for the best Pittsburgh Steelers draft coverage in all the land.
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Overview
LB Dont'a Hightower seems to be the Steelers' first-round target but he may be off the board
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With 10 picks this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers should both be able to meet needs as well as grab a few gems who are high on their draft board.
In Round 1, the Steelers had a variety of options and were beholden to what happened in the 23 picks preceding theirs. And luckily, those 23 picks went very much in the Steelers' favor.
Though it was the consensus pick that the Steelers would take Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower at 24, the fact that so many top-tier offensive linemen kept falling allowed the Steelers to pick up the best guard in the draft, Stanford's David DeCastro.
The Steelers continued the offensive line trend in round two, taking a risk by selecting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams instead of a linebacker. Adams is said to lack the necessary killer instinct required of a starting offensive lineman, but has the prototypical size and speed. Look for him to make the biggest impact on running downs.
In the third round, Pittsburgh selected Miami linebacker Sean Spence. Spence is a bit undersized and has work to do to enter into the Steelers' linebacker rotation, however it's quite possible that they brought him on to convert him to strong safety as Troy Polamalu's ultimate replacement.
He has the tackling and blitzing skills and great instincts that are required of the position; don't be surprised if a switch at position is in his future.
In Saturday's rounds, the Steelers could target more help for their linebacking corps and the ground game. Safety is also an area of concern, and they could look to add another cornerback as well.
With 10 picks and only a few extremely pressing needs, the Steelers have an opportunity to build depth with this draft in areas where they are thin or aging.
Round 1, Pick 24: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
David DeCastro means a major improvement to the Steelers' struggling offensive line
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It's practically a coup for the Pittsburgh Steelers with their first round pick. Thanks to a run on defense throughout much of the round, the Steelers' were able to snag the very best offensive guard the draft had to offer, Stanford's David DeCastro.
DeCastro is a guaranteed starter this year, comes in with no injury history and could easily be a future Pro Bowler. Forget Cordy Glenn, forget Dont'a Hightower (who fell to the New England Patriots with the very next pick)—getting a talent like DeCastro is a major win for the Steelers in this round.
Protecting Ben Roethlisberger is key, of course, as is having a talented lineman to re-ignite the Steelers' run game. Clearly DeCastro can do this, without question. This is a great start to Pittsburgh's 2012 draft class.
Round 2, Pick 56: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Get him motivated, and he'll be a beast, but right now Mike Adams lacks a killer instinct
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Again, the Pittsburgh Steelers go offensive line in the 2012 draft, and again, they get a steal, selecting first-round projected offensive tackle Mike Adams 56th overall.
Adams had a bit of shaky draft footing, especially when it comes to motivation, but the Steelers are skilled at bringing the best out of their players and do a great deal of research so that high-risk, high-reward players ultimately skew towards the latter.
Adams has the prototypical size for a starting offensive tackle but has issues with technique. As such, he may not be a full-time starter in his rookie year and instead becomes a part of the Steelers' line rotation, primarily on running downs.
It's a bit baffling that the Steelers did not go linebacker with this pick, but offensive line needed to be addressed early and often this year, and that's certainly what they've done in the first two rounds.
Round 3, Pick 86: Sean Spence, LB, Miami
Sean Spence may actually be a SS in the Steelers' system
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Sean Spence was a starter as a true freshman, which means he's got a lot of experience under his belt. He's fast, and an excellent tackler.
Spence does need some development however, and missed time as a sophomore with injuries. Nonetheless, Spence's name has been rapidly rising up draft boards in the past few weeks, with his football instincts not worth ignoring.
The interesting thing about Spence is that he's been projected to be useful as a 4-3 linebacker only, but his speed, intensity and blitzing skills may have the Steelers interested in turning him into a strong safety. Food for thought; that may just be why he went to them in the third round.
Round 4, Pick 109 (Trade from Redskins): Alameda Ta'Amu, DT, Washington
Alameda Ta'Amu is the perfect Steelers pickup, and in the fourth round, he's a steal
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The Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to 109th overall (from the Washington Redskins) to get their nose tackle of the future, Washington's Alameda Ta'Amu. He will likely take over for Casey Hampton immediately.
He's a prototypical nose tackle with elite strength and some serious viciousness and he's elite in stopping the run. The only concern with him is his weight—expect some workout bonuses in his contract. He'll need to work on building his stamina to be an every-down player like he's expected to be.
The Steelers met a very pressing need at a relative value (they gave up only their sixth-round pick to move up). Even with the concerns about Ta'Amu's health, the fact that he's replacing a 35 year old makes him an instant upgrade at the most important position in a 3-4 defensive line.
Round 5, Pick 159: Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
Few players in this draft class are faster than RB/WR Chris Rainey
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The speedy Chris Rainey is a dual threat running back/wide receiver in the mold of Percy Harvin, though his production is lower. He's got agility and quickness to elude defenders, but his smaller size means he'll need someone blocking for him.
Rainey can't block, so when he's on the field, he should be part of the play. He can contribute on kick and punt returns as well, which takes pressure off of wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Rainey won't be used in any traditional way and doesn't seem to fit the Steelers' offense at first glance, but he certainly seems like someone new offensive coordinator Todd Haley can get a bit creative with.
Round 7, Pick 231: Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado
Toney Clemons could be catching touchdown passes for the Steelers regularly in 2013, and will be a developmental player this season
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Colorado's Toney Clemons is an athletic, fast receiver who knows how to get major yardage—even in the struggling Colorado offense, he was averaging 15 yards after catch.
The Steelers will be in a sticky situation at receiver in 2013, with Mike Wallace an unrestricted free agent if he doesn't get a new deal this year and Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both restricted free agents.
It's a safe move to pick up a receiver like Clemons in the seventh round, therefore. He needs to bulk up a bit, but otherwise he's a very strong addition and a player worth developing over the next year.
Round 7, Pick 240: David Paulson, TE, Oregon
David Paulson has good hands and decent speed, but he's undersized to be successful in the NFL right now
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David Paulson is a perfect seventh-round compensatory pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's a player worth such a late-round pick but may or may not ever make something of it. While he's good at blocking and is a surprisingly talented receiver, he needs to add considerable bulk to ever make an impact on the professional level.
The Steelers needed to add some tight end depth in this draft, and they were successful in the Paulson add. He'll likely be more successful catching than blocking for the Steelers, but don't expect him on the field much as a rookie.
Round 7, Pick 246: Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
Terrence Frederick won't be a playmaker for the Steelers' secondary
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If the Steelers are going to take a flier on an iffy player, they may as well do so in the seventh round. Cornerback Terrence Frederick out of Texas A&M doesn't seem to have much of a skill set to make him an eventual starter in the NFL, but perhaps the Steelers see some special teams use in him.
Frederick is undersized and lacks speed. It appears at first blush this was a waste of a pick.
Round 7, Pick 248: Kelvin Beachum, OG, Southern Methodist
Kelvin Beachum was a strong way to close the draft for Pittsburgh (Photo courtesy: National Football Report)
The Steelers make up for the misstep at 246 by going back to the offensive line for their final pick of the draft, selecting Southern Methodist guard Kelvin Beachum at No. 248.
Beachum could actually find himself in the Steelers' offensive line rotation at some point in the future. He's got good strength and explosiveness, but needs to boost his fundamentals. This is a strong way for the Steelers to close their draft—adding more depth where they need it most, offensive line.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Draft Report Card
Landing OG David DeCastro is like the Steelers' dream come true
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Round 1: OG David DeCastro, Stanford, A+
DeCastro fell into the Steelers' lap and they had no choice but to take him. He's a future Pro Bowler and brings stability to what was once a chaotic offensive line.
Round 2: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State, B-
High ceiling, low floor. If the Steelers can properly motivate Adams, he'll be an excellent tackle for many years, but if they can't, Ben Roethlisberger's going to take a ton of sacks yet again.
Round 3: LB Sean Spence, Miami, B
Look for Spence to move to strong safety though there is a chance he remains as an inside linebacker.
Round 4: NT Alameda Ta'Amu, Washington, A
The Steelers needed a nose tackle this year, and Ta'Amu's one of the best. This is practically a steal for Pittsburgh in the fourth round.
Round 5: RB Chris Rainey, Florida, B
Rainey will be used as a running back and receiver, and his elite speed will allow the Steelers to be more creative with him. He can't block, however—he's just too small.
Round 7: WR Toney Clemons, Colorado, B
Depth at receiver is good for 2012; he could be a starter in 2013 depending on how things play out when this season is over.
Round 7: TE David Paulson, Oregon, B-
Paulson could prove to be a good receiver at some point, but he needs to bulk up. He's skinny and needs to work on blocking.
Round 7: CB Terrence Frederick, Texas A&M, D
Not at all sure what the Steelers did with this pick. He's not physical or fast enough to play corner in the NFL and, as such, isn't projected to do much on special teams either.
Round 7: OG Kelvin Beachum, Southern Methodist, A
Ending the draft with offensive line depth is a perfect move for Pittsburgh. Beachum could easily rise on the roster by the time the 2012 season is over.
Overall Draft Grade: A