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Pittsburgh Steelers Say They Do not Grade Drafts; If They Did, This One Would Be an A

April 29th, 2012 at 12:02 AM
By Mark Mihalko

 

Pittsburgh Steelers fans are spoiled. Now, for some that may be an insult, but really, it is a compliment. Steelers’ fans are spoiled by a franchise that will not accept mediocrity, where a first-round loss in the playoffs just is not good enough. Spoiled by a team that does not rebuild, it reloads and continues on its way in the AFC North.

The Steelers are a model of consistency on the field and off. The Rooney family is a cornerstone of the league, hiring outstanding head coaches and let them develop the talent acquired in the draft. More importantly is the underrated genius of general manager Kevin Colbert, who often goes unmentioned in the conversations of top front office personnel. Maybe after this draft, he will get the recognition he deserves.

The Steelers entered the draft with more needs than the team will ever admit and after playing their cards close to the vest, they appear to have solidified many of those areas with quality prospects. In all, the team selected nine players in this draft and definitely focused on building depth at some of the troubled areas on the roster.

Yes, some picks were no brainers like first round selection David DeCastro, who should come in and compete for a starting spot as a rookie, but that is how it works. The Steelers and Colbert have a knack for following their board and moving when the have to, as was apparent in the fourth round when they traded up a few spots to grab nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

Incredibly, the Steelers appeared to get solid value in every round and have been at or near the top of the experts list of the most impressive drafts in 2012. Yes, there are some risks inside those projections, but the risks seem to be secondary at this point. A quick review of their draft shows why experts are so high on it.

In the first round, scoring DeCastro was huge. He was clearly the top rated guard in the draft and he should have come off the board much earlier. In the second,  OT Mike Adams fell to them do to some character concerns, but he was regarded as a first round talent and should help solidify the offensive line for years to come (if he stays straight). Third round linebacker Sean Spence is a playmaker and possibly one of the most athletic linebackers in the class, unfortunately his lack of prototypical size pushed him down draft boards.

The team appears to have hit a home run in the fourth round where they traded up to grab Ta’amu the hulking nose tackle from Washington. Yes, he may have some weight issues, but many experts projected him as the best pure 3-4 defensive nose tackle in the draft. To score him for a fourth and a sixth should be viewed as a win. The same way fans and experts should view University of Florida running back Chris Rainey, who the team landed in the fifth round. Rainey is a versatile playmaker with incredible speed, had he not had some early career off-field concerns and some injury issues, the explosive back would have been taken much earlier in the draft.

In the seventh round the team looked at potential with some interesting developmental prospects in Colorado wide receiver Toney Clemons, Texas A&M cornerback Terrence Frederick, Oregon tight end David Paulson and SMU lineman Kelvin Beachum., all of who may be able to find their niche on the Steelers roster in 2012.

Kevin Colbert said some interesting things during his pre-draft press conference, and in looking back, it is easy to see those play out. Yes, the Steelers drafts a player because they want them, not need them, but the line definitely blurs when value and want meet need (like what happened in this draft) and that the Steelers grade their draft by championships not letters. That too is understandable in looking at history, but if he were to assign a letter grade to a draft, this 2012 edition would definitely be graded as an A.

Tags: Football, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers

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