The 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers draft class has been chosen and the excitement for the upcoming season is building at a rapid pace. There is already talk about which players might contribute in their rookie season and how many might even start on either offense or defense in week one.
The obvious names that most are tossing around as week one starters are guard David DeCastro, tackle Mike Adams and nose tackle Alameda Ta\'amu. The only realistic names on that list however to be in the starting lineup when the Steelers take on the Denver Broncos in week one however are DeCastro and Adams as the history of the Steelers draft picks has shown us.
Below is a table of the Steelers draft picks dating back to 2001 that includes players that were either active for games during their rookie season (including playoff) or eventually made a start during their career with the Steelers. As you can see by the list, many draft pick names are missing because they failed to meet either of those two criteria. Several missing players on the list failed to make the final roster cuts their rookie season as well.
As you can clearly see, defensive draft picks of the Steelers rarely ever get starts in their rookie seasons and only once has a defensive player draft pick actually started in week one. That of course was linebacker Kendrell Bell in 2001. Even the great Troy Polamalu failed to make a start his rookie season.
The list is kind to top offensive line draft picks. Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and Kendall Simmons are solid examples of linemen drafted early that can start almost immediately. Pouncey of course did do just that in week one of his rookie season. Pouncey and tight end Heath Miller were the only two offensive players dating back to 2001 that started week one of their rookie season.
When you look at the 2012 class compared to the Steelers history below, we can speculate that DeCastro really is the only player that has a legitimate shot of matching what Pouncey did a few years back. He is the most polished and NFL ready of all the picks. Adams and Ta\'amu certainly could start at some point during the season depending on their development and quality play ahead of them. Ta\'amu will have it the toughest perhaps of those two as the Steelers rarely let rookies start on defense period early on.
|2011||2||63||T||Marcus Gilbert||15||14||1st/Wk 2|
|2010||1||18||C||Maurkice Pouncey||18||18||1st/Wk 1|
|2010||2||52||LB||Jason Worilds||15||0||2nd/Wk 9|
|2005||1||30||TE||Heath Miller||20||19||1st/Wk 1|
|2005||2||62||CB||Bryant McFadden||16||1||1st/Wk 13|
|2005||3||93||T||Trai Essex||6||4||1st/Wk 11|
|2002||2||62||WR||Antwaan Randle El||18||0||2nd/Wk4|
|2001||2||39||LB||Kendrell Bell||18||18||1st/Wk 1|