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Archive for April, 2012

Rating the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2012 draft

April 30, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

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?

Steelers select OT Kelvin Beachum in 7th round

April 28, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

With their final pick in the 7th round (they had 4 of them), the Steelers selected Kelvin Beachum, an offensive tackle from SMU.

Kelvin Beachum was a 4-year starter at SMU.  He started all 4 years at left tackle.

What’s particularly impressive is that Beachum was able to start as a freshman at a position that is as important as left tackle.

What makes his accomplishment even more impressive is that SMU was a pass-oriented offense.  So the tackle position was critical to their success.

Beachum was recognized for his performance by being named First Team Conference USA as a senior.

Kelvin Beachum

Standing only 6’3″, Beachum is considered short by offensive tackle standards.

He’s not particularly strong.  At times he struggled to generate a good push on his man.  His lack of arm strength was further demonstrated when he was only able to bench press 19 times at the NFL Scouting Combine.  I’m not a fan of the Combine, but in this case, his combine results reflect his on-field performance.

Besides his height problem, he also has short arms and only average foot quickness.  That will probably prevent him from playing tackle at the pro level.  That’s why many are projecting that he’ll have to be moved inside to guard if he’s to make it in the NFL.

Beachum is definitely a project.  But he’s young, and he has time to develop.

Welcome to the Steelers, kid.  We look forward to seeing you at training camp.

Steelers select CB Terrence Frederick in 7th round

April 28, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

With the 246th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Texas A&M cornerback Terrence Frederick.

Frederick is 5′ 10.5″, 180 lbs., which is small for an NFL player, but not overly small for a cornerback.  Unfortunately, Frederick doesn’t bring any other remarkable traits to complement his non-remarkable size.

He’s not an exceptional cover corner.  He doesn’t have top end speed, and has a tendency to bite on fakes.  In fact, he’s probably best utilized in a zone defense.

He’s not a big hitter.  But at 180 lbs., I don’t think anyone expects him to be.  But to his credit, he’s a hard worker who is willing to make tackles in the running game.

Terrence Frederick

He doesn’t have great height, and he’s not going to be able to challenge bigger receivers vertically.

One thing that will work in his favor is that he was often used in the slot in nickel packages at Texas A&M.  That’s the only place that he has any possibility of seeing action as a rookie (if he even makes the team), so that should work to his advantage.

But the reality is that Frederick was only 7 picks away from being the 2012 Mr. Irrelevant.  So I think most Steelers fans understand that his odds of making the team are slim at best.  But we wish him good luck.  The Steelers need as many good cornerbacks as they can find.

Steelers select David Paulson in 7th round

April 28, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

With the 240th pick in the 7th round, the Pittsburgh Steelers select David Paulson, a wide receiver out of Oregon.

Paulson is an interesting pick.  In an era when tight ends are becoming more like wide receivers, the Steelers drafted a player who isn’t going to light up the scoreboard.

David Paulson doesn’t have blazing speed.  In fact, he’s rather slow.  Nor is he an amazing athlete.  But he has very good hands, and can make catches with defenders draped on him.  More importantly, he’s a hard worker who isn’t afraid to block.

Paulson played more like a wide receiver than a tight end in Oregon’s spread offense.  He often lined up in the slot, or was split wide.

David Paulson

While he only had 31 catches for 438 yards  and 6 touchdowns as a senior, he was voted Co-MVP on offense by his Oregon Ducks teammates.  That says a lot about how much his team thought about his contribution.

Paulson’s size is probably going to be a disadvantage in the NFL.  Standing only 6’3″, and weighing 243 lbs., he’s much smaller than Heath Miller (6’5″, 256 lbs.), Leonard Pope (6’8″, 264 lbs.), or David Johnson (6’2″, 260 lbs.).  He’s not big enough to be a bruising blocker, and he’s not tall enough or fast enough to excel as a receiver.  Therefore, he may be best used as an H-back like David Johnson.  But until we know more about what new offensive coordinator Todd Haley plans to do, it’s hard to guess how Paulson might be used.

With Heath Miller and Leonard Pope on the roster, it’s not likely that Paulson will see much playing time at tight end.  Moreover, he’s at a weight disadvantage versus David Johnson at H-back.  So he’ll have his work cut out for him at training camp.  But with hard work, who knows what can happen.  And one thing that David Paulson will definitely do is work hard.

Steelers select WR Toney Clemons in 7th round

April 28, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

With the 231st pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Toney Clemons, a WR from Colorado.

Clemons is a Pittsburgh native who is probably happy to be coming home.

He started his career at the University of Michigan,  and played there for 2 years before transferring to Colorado, where he finished his collegiate career.

As a senior at Colorado, he was named by the coaches as the winner of Colorado’s John Mack Award, given to the team’s most outstanding offensive player.

Toney Clemons

Steelers fans know that Ben Roethlisberger likes big receivers, and none of the Steelers’ current receivers fit that description.  But Toney Clemons will be a move in that direction.  Clemons is 6’2″ tall.  That makes him the tallest wide receiver on the Steelers roster.

Clemons is a big, physical wide receiver who isn’t afraid to go across the middle.  Because of his size, Clemons is adept at muscling cornerbacks and breaking tackles.  He’s also been known to run over a few cornerbacks and safeties.  Moreover, he’s a very physical blocker, which is sure to go over well with Steelers fans.

He’s not particularly fast in game situations.  So don’t believe the hype that you’ve probably been reading on other sites about how fast he is.  While he did run a fast time (4.36) at his pro day, he was never able to perform at that speed during games .  In fact, he didn’t excel at getting separation from his defenders, and he only scored 11 touchdowns during his entire college career.   Instead, he used his size and strength to beat his man.  That’s why his style of play is most often compared to Anquan Boldin.

We’ve already got Mike Wallace to take the top off of the defense, so I don’t think that Big Ben will mind having a receiver who is better at fighting off defenders than he is at blowing by them.

Welcome to the Steelers, kid.  You’re joining a talented group of receivers.  It’s going to take a lot of work to earn playing time.