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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

STEELERS - The 2012 Draft, Rounds 1-3

Well, the Steelers' draft has been widely hailed as an "A": I haven't seen one critical review yet. I'm sure SOMEBODY out there isn't happy with it, but it looks like the Steelers picked very well, though there are a few points worth mentioning. I'm going to break down the review into a couple emails due to time constraints.
1st Round/24th Pick
DAVID DECASTRO (Stanford)- There are no sure things in the NFL draft. And sure fire linemen miss, like at every other position (Steve Everitt, Tony Mandarich, Dean Steinkhuler, etc). But DeCastro, from Stanford, appears to be the best guard prospect since former Buckeye Orlando Pace, who went first overall in 1997. He could fail, but the odds for him to excel look good. DeCastro can block and pull. Think Alan Faneca (a borderline hall of famer). If he pans out and stays healthy, he and Maurkice Pouncey will anchor the Steelers line to the end of the decade. A TREMENDOUS first pick that fills the Steelers' biggest weak spot. Could not have done better here.
2nd Round/24th Pick
MIKE ADAMS (Ohio State) - I've thought more about this pick than any other. Some folks projected the Steelers to take him in the first round, so getting him in the second could be considered a bargain. Could be. Adams is considered a "soft" 6-7, 323 lbs. He has the size to dominate, but quite simply, he didn't. He was involved in TatooGate, which tells you he doesn't follow rules well. And he showed up to the Combine with marijuana in his system. Which tells you he's dumb. Then he lied about it. Which shows a further character issue.
A Pennsylvania kid who wanted to be a Steeler, he drove to Pittsburgh and basically apologized for being stupid. The Steelers told him to do some things to get back on their draft board; apparently he did so, whatever they were. And they took him. He can pass block well and knows how to use his size. But over all, he just didn't do a lot as a starter at OSU. And he's had knee and shoulder surgeries already. Because of the Combine debacle, he already has one NFL strike: his next offense will be a mandatory four game suspension. And he hasn't even put on a uniform yet.
Offensive line coach Sean Kugler has done a good job patching together a functioning offensive line. Adams will be a different kind of challenge: getting an under achiever to live up to his full potential. If Adams (a high school all american) stays healthy, stupid-free and utilizes his skills, he will be a starter on the Steelers line. And with Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and DeCastro, would round out the nucleus of a solid, young, line. But that's a lot of hoping. Adams is clearly a gamble. And with his multiple off field problems (he was also arrested as a freshman), this is the type of player the Steelers' have shied away from in the past. Combined with his mediocre on-field production, it was an interesting pick. The Steelers, who clearly need tackle help, must have been convinced they can bring the best out in him. I hope so, but I'm not too impressed with this choice yet.
3rd Round/23rd Pick
SEAN SPENCE (Miami) - This is the pick that seems to have puzzled most draft pundits. Spence is a VERY quick outside linebacker who can cover and flies to the ball. But at only 5'-11", he's small. The Steelers' scheme uses fast, strong guys to rush the passer.He gets high scores for toughness and on field leadership (and he stayed out of trouble at Miami, which is uncommon). He fits the mold of the guy the Steelers take not for need, but as the best athlete on their board. Expect him to play special teams for a couple years. I kind of doubt he's going to become a starting OLB in Pittsburgh (based on his size) but he could impress the coaches. We'll see.
So, a grand slam in the first round, a casino gamble that's more likely to be a bust than a black jack in the second, and an athletic kid outside the mold in the third. Next up, the remaining four picks, which were pretty good.

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