What to Expect from the Steelers' 2012 Rookie Class in 2013
The Pittsburgh Steelers' 2012 rookie class had a pretty disappointing season considering all the expectations going into the year.
Injuries had a lot to do with it, and there will again be a lot of expectations on the group to be major contributors in 2013.
I have listed only the rookies from last season who will at least have a shot at making the roster again. So Chris Rainey is obviously not here.
First Round: David DeCastro, G
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
David DeCastro missed most of the season due to a knee injury, and when he made his way to the starting lineup he was inconsistent.
It was to be expected that DeCastro would have an adjustment period after missing most of his rookie year. I fully expect him to come back strong in 2013.
DeCastro will be the Steelers' starting guard, either right or left, next season and will immediately help a line that often struggled to open up holes in the run game.
Second Round: Mike Adams, OT
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Mike Adams became the starting right tackle when Marcus Gilbert went down in the loss to the Tennessee Titans. He later landed on injured reserve himself late in the season.
Like with DeCastro, Adams was inconsistent, although in his first three starts he helped the Steelers produce their only three 100-yard rushers of the season.
It keeps getting more unlikely that the Steelers will re-sign Max Starks, so Adams is going to compete with Marcus Gilbert for the LT spot. At worst, he will be the starting RT.
Third Round: Sean Spence, ILB
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Another rookie, another injury-plagued season. Sean Spence missed the entire 2012 season with a blown-out knee.
Spence is going to have a huge opportunity in camp to compete for the starting ILB spot next to Lawrence Timmons, especially if the team does not retain Larry Foote.
Even though I think Foote will be back, Spence will be expected to be a coverage linebacker who will allow Timmons to blitz more.
Fourth Round: Alameda Ta’amu,NT
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Alameda Ta’amu may end up being cut by the Steelers because of his pending legal situation, which would obviously bring his expectations to zero.
At the moment, Ta’amu is competing with Hebron Fangupo for the backup NT spot behind Steve McLendon.
If Ta’amu can pull his life together, I still think he can develop into a really good NT for the Steelers. However, for the 2013 season, I’m not expecting much.
Seventh Round: David Paulson, TE
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
David Paulson had a decent season backing up Heath Miller. But Paulson still needs work as a blocker and receiver.
However, since Miller may miss the start of the season due to his knee injury, Paulson will be expected to be the starter in Week 1, unless the Steelers bring in another tight end through the draft or free agency.
Seventh Round: Kelvin Beachum, OL
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Kelvin Beachum was the Steelers’ final seventh-round pick and he started the final five games of the season at right tackle.
The Steelers could lose Ramon Foster to free agency and may cut Willie Colon, which at the moment would leave Beachum as the starting guard on either side.
I expect the Steelers to at least try to re-sign Foster, which would leave Beachum as the swing guy capable of playing almost every position on the line.
Undrafted: Adrian Robinson,LB
Although I thought Adrian Robinson should have gotten more playing time early in the season, 2012 was basically a redshirt year for the undrafted free agent out of Temple.
Robinson has some potential as a pass-rusher. But he is not guaranteed to even make the roster next season.
He is going to have to prove he has developed enough to be trusted on the field. Otherwise, his expectations for the season are zero.
Undrafted: Robert Golden, S
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Robert Golden was another young player who I thought should’ve gotten a little more playing time as a rookie. When he was on the field, he was inconsistent, as could be expected.
Golden needs to develop and isn’t ready to be a starter. However, I think he can be a playmaker in the secondary if given the chance.
As far as his expectations going into the 2013 season, he is only guaranteed a shot to compete for a roster spot.
Undrafted: Drew Butler, P
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Drew Butler basically won the punter job by default in camp when Jeremy Kapinos was unable to compete due to injury.
Butler didn’t have a bad season, finishing with an average of 43.8 yards per punt and 26 punts downed inside the 20.
The Steelers will definitely bring some competition for Butler to training camp. But at this point, he should be the favorite to win the job again.
Undrafted: Hebron Fangupo, NT
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
The Steelers picked up Hebron Fangupo off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks, and he was inactive for his only game with the team.
Other than competing with Alameda Ta’amu and any other player the Steelers bring in at the position for a roster spot, Fangupo doesn’t have any expectations on him for the 2013 season.