2012 Draft

Steelers 2012 Pre Draft Analysis

By Christopher DiMarino

It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a very important draft ahead of them on April 22nd. I will take it a step further and insist that this draft could impact their success not only in 2012, but likely 2013. With the condition of Pittsburgh’s current roster salary, this draft could be important to the team’s cap stability if they can draft players who are able to step in and start. It has been speculated that Pittsburgh will let many of their veterans test the free agency market in an effort to save cap this upcoming season. What accompanies this is the possibility (by injury or subpar talent) that Pittsburgh may need to sign some free agents late into preseason (much like in 2011 with Willie Colon’s injury) if they mishandle this draft. So drafting intelligently could push Pittsburgh from a cap disaster to Super Bowl implications.

The draft needs for Pittsburgh are multi layered. I believe that this year they need a Guard and Nose Tackle. They also need a Safety and Inside Linebacker to add depth and step in a few years. I always feel that pressing needs should be addressed, and secondary pieces can be attended when they are needed (which is why I would make a terrible GM). But with the likelihood of a cap expansion next year it is entirely believable that Pittsburgh could combine the 2013 Free Agency with the 2013 Draft to fill the gaps that arise. That leaves Pittsburgh’s most pressing 2012 draft focus on NT and OG. I will review those 2 positions and what possible players could be donning the black and gold come September.

I feel that it’s safe to assume unless elite talent at the aforementioned Safety and Inside Linebacker drops to Pittsburgh’s 24th drafting spot, that they will choose a Guard and Nose Tackle with their first 2 picks. However there may be a possibility of a fit in the 3rd round that can compete in August. I will review the talent at each of those positions, in an effort to narrow down the names on your radars so we can dig deeper into some of these young stars.

Offensive Guard:

Name

Proj Rank

School

Class

Height

Weight

Proj Rnd

David DeCastro

9

Stanford

rJr

6-5

316

1

Cordy Glenn

23

Georgia

Sr

6-5

345

1-2

Brandon Washington

40

Miami (Fla.)

Jr

6-3

320

2

Kelechi Osemele

44

Iowa State

rSr

6-6

333

2

Kevin Zeitler

56

Wisconsin

Sr

6-4

314

2

Amini Silatolu

70

Midwestern State

Sr

6-4

311

2-3

Senio Kelemete

78

Washington

Sr

6-4

307

2-3

Brandon Brooks

103

Miami (Ohio)

rSr

6-5

353

3

Offensive guard is a sensitive position to draft. These players can often take time to earn the coach’s trust and stay in the starting lineup, let alone the 53 man roster. Even though I live and breathe defense, I think that Pittsburgh has a greater need at Offensive Guard this draft. That being said, the only way that I can imagine that Pittsburgh doesn’t draft a Guard with their first round pick, is if they opt for Dontari Poe (see Defensive Tackle section).

David DeCastro is a very tempting talent. He has a very good college resume, and combines size, strength and agility very well. He is, however, highly unlikely to drop to Pittsburgh at spot 24. Cordy Glenn is projected to be drafted right around this spot, and is the top candidate if Pittsburgh chooses to draft a Guard with their first rounder. If they wait until the second round, they could run into problems. Kelechi Osemele is projected, like DeCastro to go around 10 picks before Pittsburgh drafts. If he is gone as projected, then Pittsburgh may be able to get Kevin Zeitler. Zeitler looks capable and the Steelers had luck this past year drafting an Offensive Lineman in the second round named Marcus Gilbert as he started most of the season. However, Pittsburgh may find themselves hand cuffed as an athletic talent like Osemele could impress at the combine and land near the first round, leaving Pittsburgh with Zeitler as their only option.

I believe that DeCastro, Glenn and Zeitler would be great fits for the Steelers and could contribute next season. Osemele may not be NFL ready, and that may discourage Pittsburgh, but he could also be a dominant Guard when he develops. When more is learned from the NFL combine, this decision may become easier.

Defensive Tackle:

Name

Proj Rank

School

Class

Height

Weight

Proj Rnd

Michael Brockers

8

LSU

rSo

6-6

322

1

Devon Still

10

Penn State

rSr

6-5

303

1

Fletcher Cox

21

Mississippi State

Jr

6-4

298

1

Jerel Worthy

24

Michigan State

rJr

6-2

308

1-2

Dontari Poe

27

Memphis

rJr

6-4

346

1-2

Brandon Thompson

32

Clemson

Sr

6-2

314

1-2

Kendall Reyes

41

Connecticut

rSr

6-4

299

2

Marcus Forston

79

Miami (Fla.)

rJr

6-1

301

2-3

DaJohn Harris

81

Southern Cali

rSr

6-3

306

2-3

Mike Martin

96

Michigan

Sr

6-1

306

3

Alameda Ta\’amu

104

Washington

Sr

6-3

348*

3

This is a slightly easier position to forecast because Pittsburgh would be looking for a 3-4 Nose Tackle. For those not familiar, this player is typically very large (like Casey Hampton), and very strong. You want this guy to seem immovable to opposing guards. He will constantly shoot gaps and take double teams so one of the many linebackers can make the play. Personally, I would want this player to weigh upwards of 325lbs. Also, you want to make sure that this player is an athlete, because at this weight it is easy for the player to relax one off season and balloon up in weight and lose their mobility and their motor.

I would really only consider Poe and Alameda Ta’amu players in this group that fit the mold. I hate to oversimplify this study because the Steelers could draft a player and plan to groom him, but with Hampton likely to miss some time early and likely need to share time after that, a solid, NFL ready solution is needed. Pre combine, this is looking very favorable for the Steelers. If they feel like drafting a NT in the first round, Poe should be around, or if they decided to wait, they should be able to get Ta’amu with their 3rd. However, Poe has very limited film sitting around for too many analysts to seriously consider Pittsburgh drafting a guy with question marks in the first round.

Outside the Box Thinking:

I’ve always been known for my outside the box thinking, and if I lace up my GM sneakers, on draft weekend, this is what I would do.

  • Trade up to get DeCastro. If a king’s ransom is necessary, than it may not be worth it, but I can Pittsburgh dishing their 1st (pick 24), their 2nd (pick 56) and if necessary maybe a 4th or 5th to move up about 10 spots to get the Stanford standout.
  • With their 3rd round pick leftover, pick up Ta\’amu

If they pull both these moves off, they would have gotten what are likely 2 players who have the athletic ability and maturity to contribute and even start when the season starts. They can focus the remainder of the draft on solidifying depth at key positions like Running Back, and will enter next year’s draft with Inside Linebacker and Safety as their key focus.

Next Steps:

I will continue this analysis as the NFL Combine results start rolling in, and follow if any buzz is generated around any key players listed in this article. I will also start getting into a more in depth analysis of each of the players that I consider to be strong draft possibilities. Let’s keep in mind that even after the Combine, players still have their pro days and various interviews to increase their stock.

Citations:

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2012/DT

* Ta’amu’s weight was changed from 248 to 348 (typo by cbssports)

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2012/OG

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