Apr 302012
 
David DeCastro
Offensive Guard
Stanford
6’5  320 pounds
 

What more can I say about this pick? Just look at this dude. How can you not be excited by the NFL version of Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket? The scouting report on DeCastro is filled with superlatives like “extremely polished,” “stout at the point of attack,” and “nasty, aggressive demeanor.” He’ll be expected to start on day one and the question isn’t whether he can handle playing in the NFL but how long it’ll take him to reach his first Pro Bowl (if the Pro Bowl still exists next year). The sky is truly the limit with this pick. Why did he fall to the Steelers at #24? The only answer I’ve heard is he’s a guard, which tend to hold less value than tackles, who have to be a little better athletically since they work in space.. That said, DeCastro is a tremendous athlete by guard standards as evidenced by his superior pull blocking ability. The bottom line the Steelers got a well-rounded, blue-collar blocker who solidifies one of their guard spots for the next decade.

Mike Adams
Offensive Tackle
Ohio State
6’7  325 pounds
 

Adams was considered one of the top five tackles in the draft who fell to the mid-second round due to character concerns stemming from several incidents while at Ohio State and a failed drug test at the NFL Combine. He grew up a Steeler fan in Farrell, PA, and evidently was very hopeful the Steelers would draft him. Time will tell whether he can straighten his life out or if he’ll be just another low character guy the team failed to control. Sticking to the football side of the equation, Adams has the kind of size and quickness to be a top notch left tackle. He has some injury concerns (season ending foot injury in 2008, season ending knee injury in 2009) but rebounded to be named 1st Team Big Ten in 2010 and 2nd Team last season. Boom or Bust type with all the physical gifts in the world but needs a little polish and a lot of attitude adjustment in order to maximize his immense potential.

Sean Spence
Inside Linebacker
Miami
5’11  230 pounds
 

Excellent athlete with a non-stop motor. Tackling machine who has no problem covering sideline-to-sideline. Played several different linebacker positions in college but Mike Tomlin has already stated they’re looking at Spence to back-up Lawrence Timmons at ILB with Stevenson Sylvester in the mix to replace James Farrior at the other ILB. The downside with Spence is at 5’11 and 230 pounds, he’s way undersized for the Steelers’ style of defense. Dick LeBeau depends on his inside ‘backers to be stout against the run and drop into coverage. Timmons got pushed around his first couple seasons as an undersized ILB and he was 6’1 240. Spence is going to get run over like an annoying little gnat. What’s more, he ran a disappointing 4.7 second 40 at the combine so not only is Spence half a foot shorter than most TEs, he’s quite a bit slower, too. Perhaps he’ll give the Steelers some nice special teams play during his brief NFL career but it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever see significant playing time as a member of the defense.

 
Alameda Ta’amu
Nose Tackle
Washington
6’2  348 pounds
 

Now this is a pick. Believe it or not, some draftniks had Ta’amu listed as an early to mid second round prospect. Widely considered the second best nose tackle prospect next only to Dontari Poe, the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft. However, Poe had a mediocre college career only to skyrocket based on a great performance at the Combine while Ta’amu can simply let his game tape do the talking. The prototypical 3-4 nose tackle in the Casey Hampton mold. With Big Snack battling injury and nearing the end of his career, Ta’amu could very well be his heir apparent. The big knocks on Ta’amu are his poor athleticism and lack of stamina. Hey, ask Hamp about doing wind sprints when you weigh three bills plus. If nothing else, I’m sure Tomlin and company will have him in football shape before training camp is over. As far as athleticism goes, he may never be a dynamic nose tackle ala Snack or Haloti Ngata but you can’t coach size and that combined with being stout at the point of attack will likely make him an ideal fit in LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme.

Chris Rainey
Running Back
Florida
5’8  180 pounds
 

Ah, another solid citizen. Rainey was suspended for five games for threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend via text message. Between this and the Adams pick, Steeler Nation has almost lost the right to mock the Bengals for employing criminals when we continue to populate our roster with thugs and potheads. Anyway, in an interesting bit of trivia, Rainey actually lived with Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey during high school so he probably vouched for his former roomie. Antisocial tendencies aside, Rainey will be an interesting toy for new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He was one of the fastest players at the Combine, clocking a blazing 4.38 40. At only 5’8 180, it’s unlikely the team sees him as prototypical running back. They’ll more likely use him in a Darren Sproles type role, catching passes out of the backfield, occasionally lining up at receiver and as a special teams threat. In fact, the Steelers have already talked him up as a kick/punt returner, no doubt in large part because they’d prefer to get top receiver Antonio Brown off special teams duty. Not counting Rashard Mendenhall, who won’t be ready until mid-season at the earliest, Rainey would be the sixth running back on the roster which likely means John Clay and Baron Batch will probably be battling over a roster spot during the pre-season.

Toney Clemons
Wide Receiver
Colorado
6’2  210 pounds
 

Another local kid, Clemons grew up in New Kensington and is the cousin of Steve Breaston. Ran a 4.36 40 at his Pro Day. Began his college career at Michigan but transferred to Colorado after making only three starts in two seasons. Interesting thing about his 11 touchdowns last season was he averaged 25 yards per score so he’s evidently a big play/home run hitter type receiver. At that size and with that kind of speed, he should be an intriguing prospect even if he doesn’t explode on the scene like some of our recent draft picks at WR. Has limited experience returning kicks so that limits what you can expect from him early in his career. Unless the Steelers sign another veteran prior to camp, he’ll definitely come in as the team’s odds on favorite as the fifth receiver where his competition is currently a handful of undrafted rookie free agents.

David Paulson
Tight End
Oregon
6’3  246 pounds
 

Below average athlete with less than stellar physical tools. Ran a glacially slow 4.93 40 time at the Combine so doesn’t figure to be much of a weapon as a pass catcher despite having decent hands (6 touchdowns last season). Lack of size and strength plus a 40 time slower than mine means the Steelers will probably look at him as a FB/H-Back type rather than a TE. Supposedly a good kid who doesn’t shy from contact but odds are against him unless he shines on special teams and/or can beat out the equally terrible David Johnson.

Terrence Frederick
Cornerback
Texas A&M
5’10  187 pounds
 

Undersized corner with below average ball skills (only 3 career interceptions) and a poor tackler. Very raw in terms of fundamentals which allows polished receivers to turn him around and create separation. Lacks the speed (4.5 40) to compensate when beaten and doesn’t have the height to play with a lot of NFL receivers and tight ends. Secondary coach Carnell Lake probably saw something he liked so the Steelers decided to take a flier. Is definitely a project whose best bet is to either wow the coaches on special teams or end up on the practice squad.

Kelvin Beachum
Offensive Guard
Southern Methodist University
6’3  303 pounds
 

Look at this guy. Thighs like that, he might secretly be a Kardashian. Played left tackle at SMU, but his size and measurables project him as a guard at the NFL level. Raw and needs to be coached up if he wants to challenge for an NFL job. Has the athleticism to pull out and block downfield which is probably what the Steelers liked most about him. Shows nice range and athleticism for a guy his size but needs to add a bit of technique and strength to round out his game. A project but one with a fair bit of upside.

 

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