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Thread: Draft analyst impressed with Steelers’ picks

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    Draft analyst impressed with Steelers’ picks

    Draft analyst impressed with Steelers’ picks

    By Scott Brown

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Dan Shonka doesn’t assign letter grades to drafts.

    But the former NFL scout couldn’t get the superlatives out fast enough when evaluating how the Steelers did in the annual player selection process that concluded Saturday night.

    “I think it’s an excellent draft,” said Shonka, the general manager of Ourlads NFL Scouting Services. “If they were calling roll, who had the best draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers would come up real quick. You look at their draft and say, ‘This guy is a Steeler.’ ”

    Shonka said guard David DeCastro, the Steelers’ first-round pick, will “play in six or seven Pro Bowls.” And he may have liked the Steelers’ fourth-round pick as much he did the selection of DeCastro.

    Shonka had rated Alameda Ta’amu the best true nose tackle in the draft, and he said the former Washington standout is suited for the grunt work required of tackles in the Steelers’ defense.

    “He can drive a center back and he’s a perfect team guy,” Shonka said. “He could have easily gone in the second round. I don’t know why he lasted until the fourth round.”

    Shonka said the Steelers did as well at the end of the draft as they did in the early parts of it. He said Terrence Frederick, the third of four seventh-round picks the Steelers made Saturday, is an “athletic cornerback” who could be a surprise.

    Shonka said SMU offensive tackle/guard Kelvin Beachum was a better college player than teammate Josh LeRibeus, and the Washington Redskins picked LeRibeus, a guard, in the third round.

    As effusive as Shonka and other analysts have been about the Steelers’ haul — they have gotten solid to rave reviews across the board — the draft, like a weather forecast, is an exercise in educated guessing.

    The Steelers dispelled any notions that they have overlooked or even neglected the offensive line in past years.

    The Steelers used three of their nine picks this year on offensive linemen. They have addressed the line with more than a fifth of the draft picks they have made since 2007, general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin’s first year together.

    DeCastro looks like an immediate starter though Tomlin didn’t tip his hand, saying with a smile that the former Stanford All-American will line up with the first team Friday when the Steelers commence rookie minicamp.

    Shonka said second-round pick Mike Adams is a future starter at left or right tackle if he steers clear of off-the-field issues. Adams may have been the second-best offensive tackle in the draft, Shonka said, and he slid to the Steelers because of character concerns.

    DeCastro and Adams give offensive line coach Sean Kugler options and depth. He didn’t have much of either in 2011 when injuries forced the Steelers to use 25 different offensive line combinations, the most in the NFL.

    Kugler has had to cobble together offensive lines his first two seasons with the Steelers, and he could finally enjoy some stability if DeCastro and Adams make a successful transition from college to the NFL.

    “Realistically, I don’t want moving parts,” Kugler said. “It has been more of a necessity for us to have moving parts. We love to have guys at five stable positions and keep them there. We’ll get the right five and see where we go from there.”


  2. #2

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    Nice article I'm looking forward to OTA's and the season.

  3. #3

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    NFL Draft: Steelers' wants, needs mostly satisfied

    By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    April 29, 2012

    The Steelers filled both wants and needs in a nine-man draft class that concluded Saturday with an important trade and players at some skill positions who could tweak the way they do things on offense.

    Although general manager Kevin Colbert insisted they did not try specifically to fill the team's obvious needs, their choices looked as though they filled the team's obvious ones.

    Their biggest needs were guard, tackle, inside linebacker and nose tackle. They drafted the first three in the first two days and began the third day by making a trade to fill the other spot.

    "Really, the last three days unfolded very well for us," Colbert said. "We got a lot of players we targeted. We didn't feel we reached for anybody."

    They did, however, move up for one.

    The Steelers hit another need hard by trading with the Washington Redskins to move up 10 spots and draft nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu of the University of Washington. They swapped their sixth-round pick to the Redskins to flip-flop picks in the fourth round.

    "In Ta'amu's situation, there were only four or five nose tackle-types available, and he was the last man standing," Colbert said.

    Another need fulfilled with Casey Hampton likely in the final year of his contract.

    And, with Rashard Mendenhall rehabbing from January ACL surgery, they chose a versatile little back in the fifth round, Chris Rainey of Florida.

    The Steelers used the first of their four seventh-round picks on Colorado's Toney Clemons, a Valley High School graduate who, at 6-2, 210, has sub 4.4 speed in the 40.

    Their three other seventh-round picks were tight end David Paulson of Oregon, cornerback Terrence Frederick of Texas A&M and Southern Methodist tackle Kelvin Beachum, who the Steelers will put at guard.

    Rainey is not your typical Steelers running back.

    He stands 5 feet 8, weighs 180 pounds and is as fast as they come at that position, running a 4.37 in the 40.

    And he's not bashful.

    "I can play running back, I can play slot, I can do special teams," Rainey boasted. "I'm a playmaker all around. I'm perfect for this offense."

    He is used to running behind one of the Steelers linemen, too, because Rainey not only was a teammate of Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey at both Lakeland High School and at Florida, but he also stayed with the Pouncey twins' family while in high school.

    That helped the Steelers decide to draft him, even though he was arrested in 2010 for allegedly sending a threatening text message to a girlfriend. He accepted a plea by pledging to avoid legal trouble for six months, perform 10 hours of community service and undergo anger-management classes.

    "Everybody knows about the texting situation," Colbert said.

    "But we had some unique background on this kid because of his relationship with the Pouncey family.

    "For them to take the kid in and provide him a home in high school said a lot to us."

    Rainey said while he believes it hurt him in the draft, it taught him a lesson.

    "I became a man, matured, learned a lesson not to do that ever again," Rainey said.

    "Stuff happens for a reason."

    Todd Haley, the Steelers new offensive coordinator, said they will try Rainey everywhere, including on punt returns, where they might try to cut back the duties of Antonio Brown now that he's become a starting wide receiver.

    "He's a very versatile player who is fast, explosive, he can catch the ball, run with it and return it.

    "That's a commodity."

    Rainey was first-team All-SEC last year.

    He rushed for 861 yards and also caught 31 passes for 381 yards. He is the younger brother of running back Rod Smart of "He Hate Me" fame in the old XFL.

    Clemons, a late bloomer who transferred from Michigan to Colorado, is the cousin of Woodland Hills High School product and NFL veteran wide receiver Steve Breaston.

    "He was a guy we were all kind of crossing our fingers on," said Steelers wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery.

    "He has a unique combination of size and speed."

    Clemons has a shot to make it as the fifth wide receiver on a team that carries that many and sometimes six, especially if he can prove himself on special teams.

    In addition to their nine draft picks, the Steelers later Saturday night agreed to terms with 12 undrafted rookies. They are punter Drew Butler (Georgia), cornerback Terry Carter (Lousiana Tech), wide receiver Connor Dixon (Duquesne), safety Robert Golden (Arizona), defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun (Southern Connecticut State), center/guard Ryan Lee (Furman), linebacker Brandon Lindsey (Pitt), wide receiver Marquis Maze (Alabama), kicker Grant Ressel (Missouri), linebacker Adrian Robinson (Temple), offensive tackle Desmond Stapleton (Rutgers) and defensive end Jake Stoller (Yale).


  4. #4

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    The fact that the Steelers draft is getting so much love almost concerns me. The last time that everybody was this excited was during the Sweed/Mendenhall draft. I think that this draft is different though.

    Sweed and Mendenhall both fell, and I got the impression that they were highly rated players that the Steelers had not fully investigated, believing that they would not be available in the draft. With at least the first four picks, the Steelers certainly did their due diligence this year. DeCastro was a guy they investigated and would have considered trading up to get, Adams is well documented, etc.

  5. #5

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    Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Year: 12-4)

    2012 NFL Draft Grade: A+

    Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft: The Steelers don't have many needs, so they can afford to take the best player available - something that they usually do anyway.

    2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments: And so they did. It's unbelievable that Pittsburgh was able to walk away with David DeCastro without trading up from the No. 24 pick. The Steelers will probably have the best guard in the NFL over the next decade. It's amazing how the rich always get richer in the NFL.

    Mike Adams and Alameda Ta'amu were also steals who filled needs. All of Pittsburgh's late-round selections were decent, especially Chris Rainey, who will offer the type of game-breaking ability out of the backfield that the Steelers haven't had since Willie Parker. The only pick I'd question is Sean Spence because I don't know how he'll fit into the 3-4. Kevin Colbert is one of the top general managers in the NFL though, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Pittsburgh had the best draft class this April. The team addressed multiple holes with the best players available. A+.

    2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

    24. David DeCastro, G, Stanford: A+ Grade
    Unbelievable. The Steelers somehow land a guy who could be the top guard in the NFL over the next decade. David DeCastro could have gone as high as No. 11.
    It's really amazing how smart organizations like Pittsburgh can take advantage of dumb teams making stupid decisions year after year. This is the best pick of the 2012 NFL Draft thus far.

    56. Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: A Grade
    Mike Adams wouldn't be good on most teams. He has work ethic issues and has had some problems off the field. However, going to a strong locker room like Pittsburgh's is the best thing that could have happened to him. He's talented - he would have been taken in the first round if he were clean - and the Steelers will get the most out of him. He fills a big need at tackle. Ben Roethlisberger has to be thrilled right now.

    86. Sean Spence, OLB, Miami: C Grade
    I loved Pittsburgh's first two picks, but I don't quite understand this one. Sean Spence is talented and should have been picked a bit earlier than this, but I don't get how he fits into the Steelers' 3-4 defense. He's more of a Cover-2 outside linebacker. I trust the Steelers though, so it would't surprise me if this pick panned out.

    109. Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington: A+ Grade
    Fantastic pick. Alameda Ta'amu was once considered a first-round prospect, but his true value was in Round 2-3. Getting him here in Round 4 is a steal, and the Steelers are filling a huge need in the process. They had to find a nose tackle to eventually take over for Casey Hampton.

    159. Chris Rainey, RB/KR, Florida: B+ Grade
    Chris Rainey can go the distance on any play. The Steelers haven't had someone like that in their backfield since Willie Parker. They still need to obtain another running back because of Rashard Mendenhall's injury.

    231. Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado: B- Grade
    Toney Clemons was going to be a priority UDFA, but the Steelers could have made a better selection. It's Round 7 though, so it's not a big deal.

    240. David Paulson, TE, Oregon: B- Grade
    The Steelers signed Leonard Pope, but they apparently aren't done with their tight ends. This doesn't fill a need, but it's the right range for David Paulson.

    246. Terrence Frederick, DT, Texas A&M: B Grade
    The Steelers haven't addressed defensive line depth yet. Terrence Frederick was a borderline draftable prospect, so this is pick makes sense.

    248. Kelvin Beachum, G, SMU: B Grade
    More offensive line depth, which is something the Steelers needed. Kelvin Beachum would have been a priority UDFA, so Pittsburgh is making sure it landed him before anyone else did.

    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 04-30-2012 at 02:41 PM.

  6. #6

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    2012 Pittsburgh Steelers draft analysis

    April, 30, 2012

    By Jamison Hensley |

    Let's break down the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2012 draft:

    FIRST-ROUND SPOTLIGHT: The Steelers would've been happy to come away with either linebacker Dont'a Hightower or guard Kevin Zeitler at No. 24. Not only did both players fall to the Steelers but so did Stanford's David DeCastro, the top guard prospect in a decade. Pittsburgh couldn't have drawn up a better board. DeCastro is a physically dominant blocker who will immediately start at left or right guard. The Steelers can thank the Bengals for passing on him at No. 21.

    IN HINDSIGHT: The riskiest move of the Steelers' strong draft was taking Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams with the 56th overall pick. He was clearly the best offensive lineman left late in the second round, and he fills another need on the offensive line. But Adams was removed briefly from the Steelers' draft board because of character concerns. Pittsburgh's other option was Oregon running back LaMichael James, who was taken by the 49ers five picks later.

    BEST VALUE: NT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington. Memphis' Dontari Poe, the draft's top-rated nose tackle, was taken at No. 11. The Steelers got the second-best one in Ta'amu 98 picks later in the fourth round. That's unbelievable value. The massive Samoan is the heir apparent to Casey Hampton.

    TOP LATE-ROUND PICKUP: RB Chris Rainey, Florida. His acceleration and high-cut speeds add a different look to the Steelers offense. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has to be creative with Rainey because of his size (5 feet 8, 178 pounds), but Rainey can make some big-time plays if used the right way. He also has three career touchdowns as a returner.

    SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THIS DRAFT: Willie Colon. He might have lost his starting job when the Steelers drafted Adams in the second round, but he won't be losing money. After Colon refused to take a pay cut this offseason, the Steelers agreed to restructure his contract to create salary-cap room. Colon received $3.8 million of his $4.5 million base salary in the form of a bonus. The Steelers might have considered cutting Colon after this draft if not for the restructuring. With all that money the Steelers handed him in February, he's guaranteed to make the team.


  7. #7

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    Draft Grades

    By Pete Prisco | Senior NFL Columnist

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Best pick: They couldn't get the pick there fast enough when Stanford guard David DeCastro fell to them in the first round. He will be a 10-year starter and is a perfect Steelers player.

    Questionable move: Taking Ohio State tackle Mike Adams in the second round. He has character concerns, big ones, but the Steelers felt he was worth the risk. We'll see. He's a good player.

    Third-day gem: There was some talk that fourth-round pick Ta'amu Alameda could be at least a second-round pick. The Steelers did a great job snagging him as a potential replacement for Casey Hampton in the fourth.

    Analysis: Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert proved again over three days why he is one of the NFL's best. Look up and down the Steelers' draft board and you will see productive college players. There is some risk with Adams, but you almost have to trust Colbert on that one.

    Grade: A


  8. #8

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    The Steelers can thank the Bengals for passing on him at No. 21.
    The Bengals didn't pass on him at #21. They passed on him at #17 (in favor of Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick). They traded out of #21 (New England used that pick to take Syracuse DE Chandler Jones). With its 2 picks from New England, Cincy took Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler at 1.27 and Clemson DT Brandon Thompson at 3.93.
    Last edited by RuthlessBurgher; 05-01-2012 at 03:35 PM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    The Bengals didn't pass on him at #21. They passed on him at #17 (in favor of Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick). They traded out of #21 (New England used that pick to take Syracuse DE Chandler Jones). With its 2 picks from New England, Cincy took Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler at 1.27 and Clemson DT Brandon Thompson at 3.93.

    I suppose we can thank the Pats* for wanting Chandler Jones badly enough that they were willing to offer the Bengals enough to trade out of the #21 spot and forego drafting DeCastro.

    I think this may be the first time I have ever found myself liking the Pats* for a second.


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