Pittsburgh Steelers, 53 Man Roster Projection, Draft Grades, and Off-Season Recap

May 4, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks offensive linemen Kelvin Beachum (68) and David DeCastro (66) participate in drills during rookie minicamp and orientation. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Pittsburgh Steelers had, what they probably consider, an embarrassing loss in the playoffs to now jettison Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long standing criticism of their offensive line, which they really attacked along the offensive line. A big question will be does their defense have enough young players to step-up in the case of any injuries to the long-standing veterans, and is their enough in the Steelers secondary?

Let’s take a look back at what the Steelers did in the draft.

1st round-David Decastro, G, Stanford Cardinal

The Bengals had a draft that a lot of people though was the best in the league, but what major knock on the draft was that the Bengals passed up on consensus top 10 players, David Decastro to trade down and target Kevin Zeitler out of Wisconsin, which allowed Decastro to fall right into the laps of the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Decastro becomes the All-Pro guard many people think he can be the Bengals will receive some of that blame no unless Zeitler is equally as impressive. Great value that also fills a need you can’t get better than that. A+

2nd round-Mike Adams, T, Ohio State

By now everyone is aware probably aware of the weird circumstances that allowed the Steelers to net talented, but immature Mike Adams. Adams was taken off the Steelers board because he lied about his drug use, but then met with the Steelers brass on his own to come clean and was put back on their board–they drafted him in the second round. Adams has a lot of length and really good feet. He has remarkable potential and can be a franchise LT–to get that in the second round is tremendous. A

3rd round Sean Spence, LB, Miami Hurricanes

Here’s where the Steelers and I started to go on a different path. I like Sean Spence the player, but thought his ideal fit was a 43 Weakside linebacker. But it’s tough to argue with the Steelers–the Steelers know defense. What do I know compared to them? Spence is instinctive, but not as athletic in shorts as he appears on film. Spence seems likely to play a lot of Nickel for the Steelers early because he is pretty good in coverage and that’s a spot the Steelers needed to upgrade. Solid value, fills a need.  B+

4th round Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ta’amu is consistently inconsistent! All the talent in the world, but does not always play his best. With the Steelers he’ll likely play nose tackle and they needed a big body to play nose tackle. Again I thought ideally Ta’amu would be more of a 43 NT type player who also was used to penetrate, which I think his the best aspect of his game, but the Steelers saw something they liked about him. Love the value, like the player, lukewarm on the schematic fit. B

5th round Chris Rainey, RB, Florida Gators

The Steelers really had another good draft. Rainey might be just what the doctor ordered for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s a different animal from what the Steelers usually use at running back that should be a good thing. Rainey will also double as a kick returner. Rainey wanted to run a sub 4.3 forty yard dash, but ran a 4.45. Still fast, but not Olympic world-qualifying fast like Rainey predicted. Still a versatile weapon for the Steelers to use. A-

7th round Tony Clemons, WR, Colorado

I never disparage a 7th round pick. Very few of these picks last a long time in the N.F.L. and most are career special teamers. Clemons has a good of chance as any to make the roster early on as a special teams performer and developmental wide receiver. C+/B- (C+ or B- to me is just an average pick).

7th round David Paulson, TE, Oregon
Paulson is not the speedster many of his teammates were, but a good solid player. I would have been comfortable taking him a round earlier. I don’t think the Steelers have any signficant road blocks at the back end of their TE depth to keep Paulson from having a good shot at a roster spot.B

7th round Terrance Frederick, CB, Texas A and M

I don’t mind this pick at all. My problem here is the Steelers would have been better off if they could have found great value for a cornerback earlier in the draft. I’m not in love with the cornerback talent depth of the Steelers. Frederick is more of a special teams guy his rookie year while he develops, he might be best suited to play man coverage in the N.F.L. C+

7th Round Kelvin Beachum SMU, OL

Beachum is too short to play tackle at the N.F.L. level, at 6’2 303 pounds and will have to make the roster as a swing guard. Beachum does not have great functional strength, size, or dynamic athleticism. He is however coordinated and a hard worker could develop into a very nice backup guard because of his potential as a pass blocker.I’m not convinced he makes the final roster. C-

Overall

I really liked what the Steelers did early. I was more bullish on Mike Adams than many of my contemporaries so I liked that pick. The DeCastro pick was a terrific (and really easy pick) to make. Spence isa  good football player and Ta’amu has a lot of upside. The 7th round picks didn’t set my world on fire, but we’ll see if these guys make the final roster. For me, ideally they would have addressed the cornerback position earlier. B+/A-

Off-season recap

Steelers re-sign QB Byron Leftwich
Steelers re-sign S Ryan Mundy
Steelers re-sign CB Keenan Lewis
Steelers re-sign QB Charlie Batch
Steelers re-sign G Doug Legursky
Steelers re-sign OT Trai Essex
Steelers re-sign WR Jerricho Cotchery
Steelers re-sign FB David Johnson
Steelers sign TE Leonard Pope
Steelers re-sign G Ramon Foster
Cardinals sign CB William Gay
Steelers announce retirement of WR Hines Ward
Steelers tender FB David Johnson
Steelers tender WR Mike Wallace
Steelers cut ILB James Farrior
Steelers cut G Chris Kemoeatu
Steelers cut DE/DT Aaron Smith
Steelers cut WR Hines Ward
Steelers cut WR Arnaz Battle
Steelers cut CB Bryant McFadden
Steelers announce retirement of NT Chris Hoke
53 Man Roster Projection
Quarterback (3): Big Ben, Byron Leftwhich, Charlie Batch
Running back (5): Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey, Jon Dwyer, David Johnson
Wide Receiver (5): Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Emmanuel Sanders, Tony Clemons
Offensive Line (9): Mike Adams, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, David Decastro, Marcus Gilbert, Trai Essex, Jonathan Scott, Ramon Foster, Chris Scott
Tight End (3): Heath Miller, David Paulson, Leonard Pope
Defensive line (7): Casey Hampton, Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel, Alameda Ta’amu, Cameron Hayward, Al Woods, Mike Blanc
OLB (4): Lamarr Woodley, James Harrison, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter
ILB (4): Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Sean Spence, Stevenson Sylvester
Cornerback (6): Ike Taylor, Kennan Lewis, Walter McFadden, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen, Terrence Frederick
Safety (4): Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy
Kicker (1): Shaun Suisham
Punter (1): Jeremy Kapinos
Positions of strength:
Wide Receiver: Wallace is terrific, Brown is one of the best slot wr in the entire game. Sanders has flashed a lot of ability, and Cotchery is very reliable. Just a good group of players.
Outside linebacker. Jason Worilds is the key to this group. If he can play at a high level as a sub linebacker than this is a terrific group. I have confidence he can take the next step forward. We know the starting two outside linebackers might be the best combination in the league.
Positions of weakness-
Cornerback. I don’t like their cornerback group at all. Curtis Marsh has some ability and the full off-season should help him pick up the Steelers complicated defense. I’m not the biggest Ike Taylor fan and I don’t think Kennan Lewis is a great starting cornerback either. This could be a position that keeps them from making a big run at the Superbowl.
The Kicking game.
I can’t get over what Shaun Suisham was in Washington (and he wasn’t that good in Pittsburgh either). I’m surprised they did not try to find a big upgrade at this position in the off-season.
The Steelers should again be in the run for the Superbowl because of their quarterback play, the improvements along the offensive line and one of the league’s most consistent defenses, but their secondary worries me as does their kicking game.
Thoughts?
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Topics: Draft Grades, Pittsburgh Steelers

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