Steelers: Meet The 2012 Draft Class
ROUND 1: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
DeCastro is ideal for an offensive line that has problems protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger. He will play at right guard next to All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, giving the Steelers a pair of athletic and tenacious blockers on the inside. What’s more, the Steelers liked the way he was typically the lead blocker in Stanford’s run game.
The Steelers have juggled a lot of different players at both guard positions and DeCastro is an immediate upgrade as a Pouncey-like player — tough, smart, dedicated and athletic.
DeCastro has a chance to start right away because the incumbent starters at guard are Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, players who were undrafted free agents several years ago and have never gone to training camp as a starter. DeCastro played in a pro-style offense at Stanford, which will make the transition easier.
More important, he might be a better pass protector than run blocker, something the Steelers were seeking to help lessen some of the hits on Roethlisberger, who has averaged 43 sacks a season since 2007. Pouncey started as a rookie in 2010 and DeCastro will probably do the same thing.
ROUND 2: Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
The team has made a strong commitment to upgrading its offensive line by taking guard David DeCastro and Adams with its first two picks. In the past three years, the Steelers have used two No. 1 picks and two No. 2 picks on offensive linemen. Adams has long arms and good length—which helps him in pass protection.
Adams gives the team a young talent to use at right tackle if Willie Colon has problems coming back from another season-ending injury. Otherwise, Adams will back up on both sides until the team determines where he fits best. Adams, though, has a chance to become a starter by 2013.
Round 3: Sean Spence, OLB, Miami (Fla.)
How he fits: Spence played outside in a 4-3 front in college, but he will play inside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 front. Spence is not very big, but the Steelers like to keep blockers off their inside ‘backers to let them run to the ball. Spence is very instinctive, quick and smart and is able to run with tight ends and H-backs.
Spence will not be a starter and will back up Lawrence Timmons at the Mack LB spot and play mainly on special teams. Veteran Larry Foote will step in and replace departed James Farrior, but that probably won’t be for more than one year. Still, Spence provides depth on the inside and gives the team an extra body to replace Farrior on the roster.
ROUND 4: ALAMEDA TA’AMU, NT, Washington
Ta’Amu is exactly what the Steelers need at nose tackle—a massive, powerful player who is hard to move and often forces double teams to create space for the linebackers to make tackles. Five-time Pro Bowl NT Casey Hampton will come back for one more season, but he is coming off ACL surgery. Ta’Amu is the long-term replacement who has a chance to move into that role earlier than anticipated.
ROUND 5: CHRIS RAINEY, RB, Florida
Rainey gives the team the type of running back they don’t have—a breakaway threat who is tough to tackle in space. He ran a 4.37 at the combine and will be used mainly on special teams as a return specialist. But new offensive coordinator Todd Haley can also use him as a situational, change-of-pace third-down player who can run and catch.
ROUND 7: TONEY CLEMONS, WR, Colorado
The Steelers were interested in adding a bigger receiver on their roster, but they also got a player who ran an unofficial 4.36 at his pro day. Clemons walks into a good situation because with the retirement of veteran Hines Ward, he has a chance to win a roster spot as the fifth receiver.
ROUND 7: DAVID PAULSON, TE, Oregon
He has a chance to be the third tight end because Weslye Saunders, who has to serve a four-game suspension to start the season, may not be back. Paulson is also the type of tight end the Steelers don’t have—a player who can flex, play H-back or do in-line blocking.
ROUND 7: TERRENCE FREDERICK, CB, Texas A&M
The loss of nickel back William Gay could create a roster spot in the slot for Frederick, who does not have the size and speed to play on the outside. Frederick will be limited to zone coverage, though, because he is not very good in man coverage.
ROUND 7: KELVIN BEACHUM, OT, SMU
Played left tackle in college but will be used at guard with the Steelers. Has the position flexibility the team desires. Either way, he is probably slotted for the practice squad because he needs to develop more size and strength. But he is athletic, smart, has good feet and could develop into a nice backup in a couple years.