Pittsburgh Steelers Complete Draft Recap

 Posted by at 5:15 am  Legal Trouble, NFL Draft  Comments Off on Pittsburgh Steelers Complete Draft Recap
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.

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Apr 282012
 

They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Kevin Colbert is clearly no historian.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance in round two of the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams. Like yesterday’s first round pick, David DeCastro, Adams is another player most mock drafts had predicted to be gone well before the Steelers chose him with the 56th overall pick. A 6’7 323 pound monster with starting potential at right or left tackle, quite a few draftniks even had him slotted as a late first rounder. Unlike DeCastro, we know exactly why Adams slipped to the middle of round two.

He was one of six players who failed their drug test at February’s scouting combine. This wasn’t the first time Adams’ affinity for weed got him into trouble as he was arrested for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in 2009 and served a two game suspension because of it. He was also suspended for five games in 2011 and forced to repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring as part of Ohio State’s memorabilia/Tattoogate scandal. However, testing positive for marijuana at the combine has to be the most distressing red flag. First of all, the testing date is well known weeks ahead of time so you’re either an idiot or hardcore stoner if you can’t get clean before they ask you to piss in a cup. Secondly, Adams was asked about his history with mary jane during interviews and told everybody he had learned his lesson, hadn’t touched the stuff in years, blah blah blah. Only after he was caught did he ‘fess up.

Hmmm…  Let’s see… A pothead from Ohio State with character issues and red flags all over the place… Yeah, nothing can possibly go wrong there.

Look, I applaud the Steelers for making a strong effort to keep their franchise quarterback healthy and upright. As I said yesterday, I have no confidence in Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon as our starting tackles so if Adams is as advertised, and I’m not denying he has outstanding physical gifts, this is a great pick. And I understand the Steelers took a hard line with the kid, telling him he was off their board until he showed contrition. And I also understand Adams wrote a heartfelt letter apologizing for lying and even took the unusual step of offering to defer his signing bonus for a year and a half so he can win back the team’s trust. But I’m sorry, the Steelers have been down this road before and nine times out of ten, if you’re an idiot in college, you’ll be a bigger idiot in the pros. Stop selecting these low character guys. To paraphrase Sam Wyche, we’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Cincinnati Bengals.

ROUND 3:

In the third round, the Steelers addressed something other than offensive line by taking outside linebacker Sean Spence from Miami. Spence is a fine athlete who benefits from an almost psychic ability to guess what play the offense has called before they run it. Or maybe I’m getting him confused with someone else. And at least the only trouble he’s been in was serving a one game suspension for receiving improper benefits free lap dances while in school. For a Miami alum, that’s practically a choir boy.

You’ll have to forgive me for getting him confused with Shawn Spencer of Psych. They don’t really have much in common except for a vaguely similar name and the fact they both stand 5’11. Yep, the Steelers invested a third round pick a linebacker who’s smaller than half the running backs in the NFL. Mike Tomlin mentioned in a post-draft presser he envisions Spence moving inside which is pretty laughable when you consider he’s a midget. For comparisons sake, James Farrior stood 6’2 and weighed 245 pound while Spence tips the scales at 5’11 and 230. How the hell is Spence going to line-up with guys like the Incredible Gronk (6’6 265 for those keeping score)??

As you may have surmised from my sarcasm, I’m less than thrilled with this choice. Prior to the draft, Kevin Colbert said he expected to get at least three starters in rounds 1-3. In the post-draft presser, he’s already stated he sees Spence as a depth guy to groom behind Lawrence Timmons. Just what we need, yet another depth linebacker to go with the Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester (Class of 2010) and Chris Carter and Mortty Ivy (Class of 2011). How many freakin’ back-up linebackers does this team need?

I guess I can’t be too down on this year’s draft because at least we got DeCastro. No matter how you slice it, day one of the draft was a home run. Day two was anything but with the team taking an offensive tackle with huge character concerns and an undersized back-up inside linebacker. If the Steelers were solid up and down the depth chart, I could understand aiming for this sort of roster filler. However, they’re not and I’m a little worried that they don’t seem to have any sense of urgency in addressing that.

David DeCastro Falls Into Steelers Lap

 Posted by at 5:06 am  NFL Draft, Offensive Line  Comments Off on David DeCastro Falls Into Steelers Lap
Apr 272012
 

Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Imagine how good he’d be if he wasn’t running for his life every other snap.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took a big step in ensuring their best player stays healthy and upright by selecting Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro with their first round pick. DeCastro is by all accounts the best offensive guard in the 2012 NFL Draft. As such, very few people expected him to still be around by the time the Steelers picked 24th overall. I must’ve looked at twenty mock drafts, from professional blowhards like Peter King to every amateur draftnik with a blog and nobody had DeCastro available when we picked. To give you a rough idea how highly regarded this kid was, King had him slotted to Pittsburgh West Arizona at #13 while that smug prick Todd McShay had him going at #11 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

DeCastro is a 6’5 316 pound beast who started every game the past three seasons for Stanford. He’s equally adept at run blocking and pass protection and he executes both with extreme prejudice. I could go on and on with numbers and scouting reports but all that really needs be said is scouts have compared him favorably to Alan Faneca. When you draft a kid who reminds people of a guy who was a nine time Pro Bowler, two time offensive lineman of the year and member of the Steelers All-Time Team, that’s a pretty good pick.

As General Manager Kevin Colbert mentions above, they didn’t expect DeCastro to slip that far but when he started to fall, they immediately identified him as a player they would be willing to move up to get. As things happened, they never had to. Things were going more or less according to script through the first dozen picks when the Seattle Seahawks threw everybody a curveball by taking a thug from West Virginia named Bruce Irvin. That set off a run on defensive lineman where four of the next six picks were defensive tackles or DE/OLB hybrids. In fact, no fewer than ten DT and DE/OLB hybrids were taken in the first round. That opened the door for quality offensive lineman, who have inspired runs of their own in the previous couple drafts, to fall to the later picks.

Before the draft, I was worried that Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler would be gone when the Steelers chose. Not only were they both still on the board when the Steelers picked, we pretty much had our choice of offensive lineman for once. After neglecting the offensive line for so many years, taking an OG may not have been a sexy pick but it was absolutely the right pick. Hightower went one pick later to New England and while I expect he’ll have a nice little career under Bill Belichick, the Steelers don’t NEED another linebacker. They NEED to protect the best quarterback in Steeler history. We had the top ranked defense last year and where did that get us after Big Ben broke his foot running for his life in Cleveland?

Protect Ben and everything else is gravy.

I said in my draft preview, the Steelers don’t need depth, they need starters. As Mike Tomlin says in the above video, DeCastro is already penciled in as starter at RG in 2012. Scouts rave about DeCastro’s ability to pull on run blocks so I have a feeling he’ll eventually move over to LG but for now they’ll ease him into the NFL on the right side. Incumbent RG Ramon Foster will probably slide over to the left with Doug Legursky, who honestly has no business being a starting guard for a championship level team, will return to his role as super-sub. When the DeCastro pick was announced, the Twitterverse exploded in orgasmic joy which I understand even if I don’t necessarily agree. DeCastro is a great start to fixing our horrendous offensive line but I’m still really worried about Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon at the tackles. Baby steps, I guess.

In other draft news, two of our AFC North brethren were busy yesterday. The Bengals used their first pick on the best available criminal, taking pothead CB Dre Kirkpatrick. They later traded down with New England and wound up with the Steelers’ sloppy seconds, taking OG Zeitler at #27. The Browns, who have a solid supporting cast but zero playmakers, tried their damnedest to fill that void by moving up to take RB Trent Richardson. They later picked up former minor league pitcher QB Brandon Weeden, evidently putting an end to the Colt McCoy era. Big Ben competed in three Super Bowls by age 29, Weeden will be starting his rookie year. The Ratbirds, meanwhile, evidently feel they have no room for improvement as they waited at #29 to see how the draft fell, decided they didn’t like what was left, and traded out of the first round.

So where do we go from here? As we saw yesterday, predicting who is going to be taken when is nigh impossible. I will say this, with the run on defensive lineman yesterday, that position has been thinned out considerably. I can see the Steelers wasting no time in picking up Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu or Clemson’s Brandon Thompson as Big Snack’s heir apparent at nose tackle in round two. After that, I’m sure they’ll simply fall back into their usual mode of taking the best player available.

Know Thy Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars

 Posted by at 9:06 am  Dick LeBeau, Game Preview, Offensive Line, Secondary  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars
Oct 142011
 

The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] currently sit at thirteen point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The last time they were a huge favorite, they put forth a less than inspiring effort against the Seattle Seahawks. Oh how things change one week to the next in the wacky NFL. The team we saw last week is a far cry from the one that sputtered through the first quarter of the season.

However, since reverse psychology worked so well last week…

The Steelers will lose. After last last week’s impressive performance, they’ve grown soft. They’re reading their own press clippings. This has trap game written all over it. Bet the under.
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