With two days of the N.F.L. Draft already in the books, I figured that I would give my two cents on the Steelers first three draft picks with my own grades on the selections. So don’t delay, check them out:
(1st Round 24th Overall)
Not much needs to be said about the DeCastro selection besides: WOO HOO! For a guy that was likely to go in the early to mid-teens, and was touted as the best pure Guard prospect to emerge since Steve Hutchinson, the Steelers really found themselves a gem in DeCastro.
A 3 year starter at Stanford where he helped to lead the Cardinal’s smash-mouth ground attack, DeCastro (6’5” 316 lbs.) established himself as one of college football’s best Guards. An All-American las season, and absolute mauler in the run-game with solid pass-blocking skills to boot, DeCastro was a big part of Stanford’s Offensive success over the last three seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster as backups. Personally, I feel like they are two fantastic guys to have as 6th and 7th “swing guys” on game-days. They offer versatility, and have starting experience which is a major plus. But still, when a David DeCastro is on the board, you’ve got to take him. The fact that DeCastro fell to the Guard-needy Steelers at #24 boggles my mind, and makes me so happy. I saw him play last season against Arizona, and the dude just had an awesome motor all game long. I remember saying to myself at the time “Jeez, I hope he’s on Colbert’s radar.”
I haven’t been this excited about a Guard since Alan Faneca was in town and pulling like a champ. Big Ben needs to be protected at all costs, and improvement in the running game is absolutely necessary in the coming seasons. If Pittsburgh can find a way to get another future starter at the other Guard spot tomorrow, this will be the momentous Draft where the O-Line finally turns the corner from a talent and ability stand-point.
(2nd Round #56 Overall)
In spite of all his off-field issues, when the Steelers made Mike Adams their selection at #56, I was pretty happy from a value and football standpoint. In my personal opinion, Adams’ selection was yet another step in the right direction of “Operation: Protect Big Ben,” and an important one for a team with questions surrounding the Right Tackle spot.
Adams’ baggage is a bit of a cause for concern though and should not be overlooked. At Ohio State, Adams was involved in “Tattoo-Gate” which involved former and then-current Ohio State players selling memorabilia and exchanging it for tattoos which was against NCAA rules. Adams’ involvement in the scandal led to him being suspended for half of last season. In addition, Adams has had issues in college and then he tested positive at the scouting combine for marijuana. What made Adams’ testing positive in Indianapolis even worse is the fact that he reportedly lied about it, which in turn led to many teams including the Steelers to take him off their draft boards.
As Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette described, Adams, desperate to get back into his favorite team’s good graces, drove to Pittsburgh to meet with Colbert, Tomlin, and Rooney. After laying out some ground rules for Adams to meet, he was back on the board, and the leaders of the Front Office and Coaching Staff were convinced he could be draftable.
Hopefully, Adams can get his life back on track because it would be a shame to see all his talent go to waste. It’s hard to find guys over 6’7” and 323 lbs. which have the athleticism to play Left Tackle at the pro level (although Adams will likely play Right), and to have one fall into your lap at #56 is pretty tempting. Adams started games in 2009, 2010, and 2011 for the Buckeyes, and was named 1st team All Big Ten as a Junior and 2nd Team All Big Ten as a Senior.
Willie Colon is such a mystery in terms of his health and overall performance, that Pittsburgh in my opinion is in the right by taking a gamble on a player Adams at that point in the draft. With a need at Right Tackle, and a player fitting the size and talent mold of what you look for in the position, Pittsburgh was wise to acquire a player with 1st Round ability at the point in the draft where they selected him.
If Adams can make a believer out of Colbert and Co., then he can make a believer out of me. As I stated before, talent is not a question at all with this guy. In fact, had Adams been shenanigans free, he likely would have been a Top 20 pick. That being said, by acquiring him at #56, this was a solid low-risk, high-reward selection. Plus, protecting the $100 million dollar man is the most important thing for this franchise as Ben enters his 30’s. Thus, if Adams can be the player he is supposed to, Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness could be a strength in 2012-2013 and beyond.
University of Miami (FL)
(3rd Round #86 Overall)
I’ll admit it. I was a big shocked and a tad put-off when it came to the selection of Sean Spence at first. Nose Tackle Alameda Ta’amu was still on the board, as was the versatile Linebacker Ronnell Lewis. Plus, I had Spence pegged more as a weakside Outside Linebacker in a 4-3 system due to his size of just South of 6 feet even and 231 lbs. Still, Pittsburgh must have been impressed with him and Keith Butler obviously saw something in him to make Spence the selection at #86. And the more I sit down and think about Spence and what he brings to the team, and could eventually bring to the team, the more I’m warming up to the selection.
Spence was a tackling machine in college, and one tough hombre for opposing Offenses to deal with last season. In his four seasons as a starter at “The U,” Spence racked up 318 Tackles, and notched 100+ Tackles in his Junior and Senior campaigns according to his ESPN.com page. In addition to his numbers of Tackles, Spence made many plays behind the Line of Scrimmage, and notched 47 Tackles for Loss in 4 years and the 47 games he played in at Miami according to his University of Miami profile page. For those of you scoring at home, this guy averaged 1 Tackle for Loss per game over his four year career!
While Spence proved himself to be a solid in-the-box Linebacker despite his size, the biggest thing he could bring to the Defense is his ability to help out in pass coverage. Granted, Spence, like all Steelers Rookie Linebackers, will not see much time on the Defensive side of the ball early. In fact, Spence will likely be relegated to Special Teams duty until further notice. Still, if Spence can prove himself worthy of stopping Tight Ends and Backs in pass coverage, he would be such a valuable guy to have on the field in Nickel and Dime sub packages. I don’t know about you Steeler Nation, but watching James Farrior fail in pass coverage and Lawrence Timmons’ inconsistency got old a long time ago.
While the Spence investment could take a year or two to bear fruit, time on Special Teams, and time to get his weight near 240 could really serve to help a player with his raw amount of talent. Sure, I am a bit stunned the Steelers did not go with an already scheme-proficient 3-4 ILB. But how many are available and worth a 3rd Rounder? Furthermore, I do question why the team would pass on Alameda Ta’amu or Ronnell Lewis. But hey, there are other quality developmental Nose Tackles on the board, and Pittsburgh has other positions of need to boot. I’ll wait to pass further judgement on this pick, but as of right now I’m trying to look at this from a glass-half-full perspective, because there is a lot to like about Spence, and I’m sure the coaching staff can find ways for Spence to help this football team while he is developing.
I am glad to see that the Steelers stepped up to the plate the last couple of days and brought some solid prospects in to help the franchise. While some guys’ impacts will be felt earlier (DeCastro) than others (Spence), each of these three players bring a valuable skill-set to the table which this franchise presently needs or will need down the road. I’m crossing my fingers that each of these three will be able to pan out and pay dividends at some point over the course of their careers, because all of these players has a lot to offer in the talent department.
Now it’s your turn readers. What do you think of the picks so far? Yea? Nay? Meh? Let the commenting begin.