Now that the dust has settled, and we’ve all had a chance to think about what the Pittsburgh Steelers did in the 2012 NFL Draft, it’s time to evaluate how they did.
In order to properly evaluate the Steelers’ performance in the draft, we have to first look at what they needed going into the draft. We ranked the Steelers’ team needs here.
As you see, we said that the Steelers’ top need was at guard. And with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they selected the best guard in this year’s draft class. In fact, some have said that David DeCastro is the best guard to come around in the past 10 years. So we were very happy about this selection. And to make matters even better, they also selected offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, who the Steelers will likely move to guard.
We said that the Steelers’ next greatest need was at nose tackle. Casey Hampton is past his prime, and the Steelers couldn’t afford to wait one more year to find a replacement for him. Most people thought that Dontari Poe was the best nose tackle available in this year’s draft. But having watched him play at the University of Memphis, I disagreed with that opinion. I thought that Alabama’s Josh Chapman was the best NT in this year’s class, and that Alemeda Ta’amu was second best. I even said so here. However, I didn’t think the Steelers would take Ta’amu because they brought several nose tackles into Pittsburgh for a visit, and Ta’amu wasn’t one of them.
But the Steelers surprised me and drafted Ta’amu. So not only did they fill what we considered to be the team’s second most important need, but they also got the second best player available at that position.
The 3rd greatest need on the team was offensive tackle, and the Steelers addressed that too. In fact, they got a guy who was rated as a 1st rounder, only they got him in the 2nd round. So the Steelers essentially got two 1st round talents in this year’s draft.
Mike Adams is a big guy who played left tackle at Ohio State. I don’t think the Steelers will entrust him with the left tackle position as a rookie (they seem intent on moving Marcus Gilbert to left tackle), but I’m going to assume that Adams will compete with Gilbert for that spot in 2013.
The next greatest needs that I saw were at safety and inside linebacker. And the Steelers may have addressed both with one pick. Sean Spence was a highly productive linebacker at The U. Despite being “undersized”, he managed to make plays all over the field. He has incredible instincts, and gets a great jump on most plays.
The Steelers are saying that he will play inside linebacker behind Lawrence Timmons. However, if you look his size, the way he’s able to read plays, and the way he makes tackles all over the field, he most reminds me of a certain Tazmanian Devil who plays for the Steelers. Could he be a strong safety in waiting?
Those selections alone make the Steelers’ 2012 draft a huge success. I give it an A. However, they also picked up three guys who should help them in the passing game. Chris Rainey has good hands coming out of the backfield, and he’ll compete for 3rd down duties. He’ll also likely have an immediate impact on special teams. Toney Clemons is a big wide receiver who has a very good chance of making the roster. And David Paulson is a tight end with good hands who can definitely contribute in the passing game.
In my opionion, the only real question mark in this draft was Terrence Frederick, the cornerback out of Texas A&M. He’s a cornerback who is not particularly big, and not particularly fast. That’s not a good combination. But as a compensatory 7th round pick, there was little downside to taking him. Even if he doesn’t make the team, it’s no great loss. 7th round picks usually have a hard time making NFL rosters anyway.
So overall, Steelers fans have to be pretty happy with this draft. I certainly am.
What about you readers? Any final thoughts or comments on the Steelers’ 2012 draft?