The Pittsburgh Steelers are known in this city as well as around the league for how excellent they are at drafting. That makes what they did from Thursday through Saturday even more impressive. They had what could potentially be one of the most impressive drafts that they have had at least of this decade. Of course, it is all potential right now but it is a lot of guys with a lot of high ceilings.
First Round: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Most people are calling this pick the steal of the draft. The Steelers did not have to move from their spot at 24 to land a prospect who people are comparing to Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson. Everyone expected the Steelers to take Dont'a Hightower who was available but DeCastro was there as a top ten talent. He is a plug and play guy. He'll fill one of the spots next to Maurkice Pouncey and start from day one. Experts are saying that his floor as an NFL player is an above average starter. Steeler Nation was very excited that this guy dropped to them and they should be.
Second Round: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
This guy is an interesting story and I'm sure everyone has heard it by now. The Steelers took him off of their board but he requested a face to face meeting and they gave him a series of stipulations that he would have to meet to get back in their sights. Well he obviously did what he had to do. Adams was one of the guys involved in the Ohio State tattoo scandal a few years ago. He's also very fond of marijuana (not that I or anyone else should care). This is another steal. He is a mid first round talent that the Steelers got late in the second because of character issues. He grew up in Farrell and has loved the Steelers his whole life. He can come in and push Willie Colon who has sat out for most of the past couple years with injuries.
Third Round: Sean Spence, ILB, Miami
The biggest issue with Spence is that he needs to put on weight. All of the qualities of his game are ideal for a 3-4 ILB and remind you a lot of James Farrior. He's an instinctive linebacker that reads plays well. He rarely gets fooled by playaction and he is great at defending the screen pass. However, he is only 224 pounds and that is way too small to start in that type of system. There is speculation that the Steelers would move him into the secondary but that's just not going to happen. Middle linebacker is a need. They are going to beef him up, hopefully without diminishing his speed, and making him a potential starter.
Fourth Round: Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington
The Steelers came into this draft with ten picks and no one expected them to use all of them. This is where the Steelers traded up to get even more value. Ta'amu is one of the best fits for a 3-4 nose tackle in the draft. He is a huge man and is good at taking on double teams. He is going to be groomed to be Casey Hampton's replacement.
Fifth Round: Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
Anyone that knows me is aware that I marked out for this pick since I am a big Florida fan. This could be a boom or bust pick but it's worth it in the fifth round. Rainey had some off the field issues, primarily one that involved a domestic dispute. But on the field, he has the potential to be a lot like another former Gator, Percy Harvin. He's not going to play running back for the Steelers. He'll line up in the backfield. He'll line up as a receiver in the slot. He'll return kicks. He used to be a track star and has speed for days. If used correctly, he could add even more big play qualities to an already fast offense.
Seventh Round: Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado
Clemons is the cousin of Steve Breaston and local to the Pittsburgh area. He's a decent sized wide out with 4.4 speed. Doesn't have a ton of strength so that will need to improve to be able to separate against faster corners.
Seventh Round: David Paulson, TE, Oregon
Paulson is a pass catching tight end with decent blocking skills. Doesn't have a ton of speed so in order to succeed in the NFL he will need to use his strength to get open.
Seventh Round: Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
Not very tall and not very fast but he is a smart corner that excels in zone schemes which is what the Steelers run.
Seventh Round: Kelvin Beachum, OG, SMU
Played tackle in college but he is too small for the position in the NFL. Has good footwork and very athletic but will need to improve his run blocking if the position change is to be successful.
Draft Grade: This may be a total homer opinion but I'm giving the Steelers an A+ for the way they drafted. They got extreme value at almost every single one of their picks. Most of the guys that they selected were slated to go off the board much earlier than they did. They stuck with what they believe and that is drafting the best player available. Just so happens that the best player available also filled a need in almost every round.