2012 NFL Draft Round 4: Pittsburgh Steelers Draft NT Alameda Ta\’Amu With 109th Pick

The Pittsburgh Steelers started the third and final day of the 2012 NFL draft by selecting Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta\’Amu with the 14th pick of the fourth round after trading up with the Washington Redskins. The Steelers gave up their original fourth and original 6th round picks to get him. The Steelers need a young nose tackle to start grooming and Ta\’Amu is a prototypical 3-4 beast that is effective in taking on the double team.

OVERVIEW
With more NFL teams converting to the 3-4 defensive alignment, finding a physical “plugger” to line up over center is a premium. While the Baltimore Ravens are beginning to reap the rewards of planting massive Terrence Cody at nose guard, Ta’amu could soon be the next “wide body” residing for some team over the middle of the line.

The “battle of the bulge” has played a major role in preventing the Husky defensive lineman from realizing his potential in the past, as he would generally play in the 360-pound range and has weighed as much as 390 pounds during his days with Washington. A change in his workout regimen and cutting a staple of his Samoan culture out of his diet – rice – has seen the senior perform in the 340-pound range last year.

That drop in weight resulted in Ta’amu showing surprising quickness off the snap and better stamina, playing well into 2011 games without needing his previously customary “breather.” He is a very physical presence in the middle of the field, but because of his big frame, he is not going to be a player that can simply squeeze into the backfield and has to rely on his bull rush skills to pressure the pocket.

Ta’amu is still developing an array of moves he will need to combat savvy veteran offensive linemen at the next level, where his impressive collegiate power could be negated when trying to split the gaps (has to work on rip and swim moves). Still, if asked to do what he does best – anchor, stack and shed – he can be very effective occupying multiple blockers to free up another teammate to make the play.

Ta’amu has seen the mental aspect of his game grow considerably the last two seasons. He would often rely upon his size and raw strength to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, but rather than over-pursue or rely on his bull rush to collapse the pocket, he is a more patient defender who is quick to take advantage when guards and centers vacate the hole on traps and pulls to generate the penetration needed or simply sit back and create a pile while anchoring strongly vs. the opponent’s attempts to widen the rush lanes.

At Ranier Beach High School, Ta’amu was a three-sport standout, competing in basketball, football and track. On the gridiron, he was rated the state of Washington’s third-best overall prospect and the nation’s seventh-best offensive guard (a position he could be converted back to at the NFL level) by Scout.com. Rivals.com regarded him as the state’s fourth-best recruit and the 15th-ranked guard in the prep ranks.

As a sophomore, Ta’amu was named the Metro League Sound Division Lineman of the Year and first-team all-league on both the offensive and defensive lines, helping the Vikings to a berth in the state playoffs. In 2006, the junior received All-State Class 3A first-team accolades on offense and honorable mention on defense, where he posted eight sacks. That year, he also placed third in the shot-put at the state finals and was the Metro League champion in that event.

As a senior, the two-time All-State selection added Parade All-American recognition and was honored as the Metro League\’s Sound Division Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year, an award he won three times during his prep career. In 2007, he recorded 58 tackles with ten sacks and would conclude his career by playing in the Offense-Defense All-America Game in the Orange Bowl in Miami.

During his high school senior season, Ta’amu suffered a broken bone in his foot and that injury would prevent him from working on conditioning before he arrived at the University of Washington in 2008. He was slow to round into shape, but eventually did, starting the team’s final five games at left defensive tackle. In twelve contests, he was credited with 21 tackles (9 solos).

Dropping close to forty pounds from his frame before 2009 fall camp began, Ta’amu seized the left tackle position with a solid showing in August. He went on to start eleven games, delivering 19 tackles with 4.5 stops for loss. From his 350-pound playing weight as a sophomore, he continued to slim down, playing at 330 in 2010. He was named the team’s Lineman of the Year and received All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention, as he made a career-high 39 tackles (21 solos) with five stops coming behind the line of scrimmage.

Ta’amu’s dedicated work ethic was noticed by the coaching staff during 2011 spring camp. By the time he returned to school for the fall semester, he was named team captain. He started all thirteen games, again receiving All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention. The two-time team Defensive Lineman of the Year delivered 30 tackles, posting career-highs with 3.5 sacks and seven stops behind the line of scrimmage.

CAREER NOTES
Ta’amu started 42-of-50 games at left defensive tackle for Washington, as he produced 109 tackles (57 solos) with 7.5 sacks for minus 48 yards, 216.5 stops for losses totaling 68 yards and one quarterback pressure…Advanced a fumble recovery 14 yards and deflected one pass.

2011 SEASON
Ta’amu was named All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention by the league’s coaches…
Started all thirteen games at left defensive tackle, recording 30 tackles (15 solos), as his 3.5 sacks for minus 19 yards and seven stops for losses of 30 yards were both career-highs…Also posted a quarterback pressure…Served as team captain…Recipient of the L. Wait Rising Defensive Lineman of the Year Award at the team\’s postseason banquet.

2011 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Had a good game vs. Washington State, totaling four tackles, two and a half for loss and two sacks…Posted five tackles, one and a half for loss and half a sack in the win over Colorado…Made two tackles for loss and a sack vs. Hawaii…Produced five tackles vs. Eastern Washington, despite playing that game with a cast that protected a broken bone in his hand…Delivered two tackles in the Alamo Bowl vs. Baylor.

2010 SEASON
The junior was selected All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention by the league’s coaches, as the full-time starter at left defensive tackle recorded a career-high 39 tackles (21 solos) with 1.5 sacks for minus 13 yards and five stops for losses of 19 yards…Had one pass deflection and a fumble recovery…Named the team’s Defensive Lineman of the Year…Collected a season-high seven tackles at Oregon, then matched that the following weekend vs. UCLA, when he also had one sack…Added two tackles and a sack in the Apple Cup vs. Washington State…Posted five stops at California and two tackles with a stop for a loss at Arizona…Registered four tackles each at Southern California and vs. Arizona State…Delivered a terrific game in the Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska, when he had a 10-yard sack and also a 14-yard fumble return early in the game.

2009 SEASON
Ta’amu started all but the Washington State game, appearing in eleven contests…Was in on 19 tackles (12 solos), coming up with 2.5 sacks and 4.5 stops for losses of 19 yards.

2008 SEASON
Played in all twelve games during his true freshman season, starting the final five contests, as he recorded 21 tackles (9 solos).

INJURY REPORT
2007 Season…Suffered a hairline fracture of the fourth metatarsal (foot) during his senior season in high school.
2011 Season…Broke a bone in his hand in August camp, playing with a cast on it in the season opener vs. Eastern Washington.

AGILITY TESTS
5.30 in the 40-yard dash…1.82 10-yard dash…3.08 20-yard dash…4.72 20-yard shuttle…
7.52 three-cone drill…26-inch vertical jump…8’7” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times…32-inch arm length…9 ¾-inch hands…78 1/8-inch wingspan…13 Wonderlic score.

HIGH SCHOOL
Ta’Amu attended Ranier Beach (Wash.) High School, competing in basketball, football and track…Rated the state of Washington’s third-best overall prospect and the nation’s seventh-best offensive guard (a position he could be converted back to at the NFL level) by Scout.com…Rivals.com regarded him as the state’s fourth-best recruit and the 15th-ranked guard in the prep ranks…As a sophomore, Ta’amu was named the Metro League Sound Division Lineman of the Year and first-team all-league on both the offensive and defensive lines, helping the Vikings to a berth in the state playoffs…In 2006, the junior received All-State Class 3A first-team accolades on offense and honorable mention on defense, where he posted eight sacks…That year, he also placed third in the shot-put at the state finals and was the Metro League champion in that event…As a senior, the two-time All-State selection added Parade All-American recognition and was honored as the Metro League\’s Sound Division Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year, an award he won three times during his prep career…In 2007, he recorded 58 tackles with ten sacks and would conclude his career by playing in the Offense-Defense All-America Game in the Orange Bowl in Miami.

PERSONAL
General Studies major…Born 8/23/90 in Kent, Washington.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Bleebo77

    I’ll be interested to see if/where Chapman goes (and watch how he develops), but you can’t complain with getting Ta’amu in Round 4.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Sieradzki/100001654452929 David Sieradzki

    Such a horrible pick. Ta’amu sucks. Just watch him get destroyed when he plays good competition in Stanford and Baylor.
    Josh Chapman is 50 times better than this kid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Sieradzki/100001654452929 David Sieradzki

    I can when Ta’amu sucks.

  • Ryan

    If Chapman’s there in the 5th I would still take him and redshirt him for the year to allow him to get healthy. A rotation of Ta’Amu and Chapman would be pretty nice at the NT spot

  • Boss

    David Sierdzki your weak! thats why your not in the nfl

  • Jason White

    It’s called coaching. Coach Mitchell can turn him into a beast. He’s a 4th round pick. He’s not gonna be expected to have an immediate impact. He’s an extra body that can be plugged in as a backup.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    Amazing. Over four rounds, the Steelers have drafted 3 players, who have a legitimate shot at breaking into the starting line up, before the end of the season. We also grabbed a guy who is going to be a monster on special teams. This will go down as one of the best Steelers draft classes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    “Just watch him get destroyed when he plays good competition in Stanford”

    Ta’amu sucks, because he got beat by DeCastro? Who doesn’t get destroyed by DeCastro?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    And we need to keep things in perspective. Ta’amu was beat by David DeCastro.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    Your exactly right. Based on their track record, John Mitchell, and Dick LeBeau have no clue how to evaluate talent on the D-line. Why aren’t you the Steelers GM, you would obviously do a much better job.

  • dgh57

    Yes I agree to some degree!

    We may have the 2nd coming of Alan Faneca

    We may have a player with Polamalu like instincts

    A player with some coaching may keep the great line of Steeler NG intact!
    (referring to Joel Steed — Casy Hampton)

    Don’t know about Mike Adams!

  • Bam Bam

    He didn’t get destroyed in the Senior Bowl, and he was going up against some of the best players in that game.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    Adams will be starting at LT, before the end of the season.

  • Dgh57

    What about Gilbert at LT? Colon at RT?

  • Wdmason

    Where does this leave Starks?

  • Reader783

    Starks is still a FA. I think that Adams will turn it around, he was so apologetic about it all. I don’t know if you guys read the article about Adams driving to Pittsburgh to promise them he would get counseling and turn it around, but that shows he is dedicated (Here’s the link: http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12119/1227890-66.stm) I think Adams has the talent if he straightens out to start opening day with the lineup: Adams~Legursky/Colon~Pouncey~DeCastro~Gilbert

    I think that Colon could compete at guard, the position he was drafted at.

  • Reader783

    Bad comment Dave. I think we all know that it wasn’t funny

  • Reader783

    David, of all the picks the Steelers made in this draft, this pick may be the second worst pick to complain about. This may have been one of the biggest steals of the draft and the best pick for the Steelers other than DeCastro. If you want to complain, do it about Paulson in the 7th, or Sean Spence in the 3rd, not a steal of the best pure NT in the draft in the 4th round.

  • Reader783

    The link above has a typo in it. Here is the link:

    http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12119/1227890-66.stm

  • dgh57

    Move DeCastro to LG. They say he’s a plug and play type player.
    Move Colon to RG. Which I think they will do with the 2 new Tackles
    Resign Starks for depth.
    I’m on board with Adams now. Not sure about starting the 1st year though.

    Adams/DeCastro/Pouncey/Colon/Gilbert

  • Reader783

    Only problem with resigning Starks is the potential cost. We took Kelvin Beachum in the 7th, not at all saying that he is a Max Starks, but he is potential depth at tackle. I agree with you, though, that we need depth.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    They want to keep DeCastro at RG, because his ability to pull left will balance out the running game.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    Unemployed. I’m under the impression that Tomlin isn’t a big Max Starks fan, and only brought him back last year, out of desperation. We have three starting caliber OT’s on the roster, there’s no reason to bring back Starks.

  • kerror

    @DraftWatcher: There’s the point: pure NT?
    He didn’t play NT in Washington, he played LE in a 3-4…
    I belive that the Steelers know what they do and that they can develope him into a good NT, but i think we need a NT in this season because of casey injuries so why not take a real, proven NT at our original 4th round pick?
    And of course we could have taken a gem in that 6 round…
    Or I would have traded up in that round and took trenton robinson or james hanna (tandy too wide away..)
    But all in all I trust the steelers that ta’amu has that great athletic and weight capabilities to groom into the steelers-nt-position!

  • TsarPepe

    Draft Geek has an annihilating scouting report on Ta’amu:
    http://nfldraftgeek.com/alamedataamu.html

    Take it FWIW

  • Reader783