History Shows That Only DeCastro Has A Legitimate Shot At Starting In Week One

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.

2011131DTCam Heyward170N/A
2011263TMarcus Gilbert15141st/Wk 2
2011395CBCurtis Brown120N/A
20114128CBCortez Allen150N/A
20115162LBChris Carter80N/A
2010118CMaurkice Pouncey18181st/Wk 1
2010252LBJason Worilds1502nd/Wk 9
2010382WREmmanuel Sanders1611st/Wk17
20104116LBThaddeus Gibson20N/A
20105164CBCrezdon Butler40N/A
20105166LBStevenson Sylvester1902nd/Wk8
20106188RBJonathan Dwyer10N/A
20106195WRAntonio Brown1202nd/Wk10
2009132DEEvander Hood1602nd/Wk8
2009384WRMike Wallace1641st/Wk7
2009396CBKeenan Lewis403rd/Wk3
20095168CBJoe Burnett150N/A
20095169RBFrank Summers211st/Wk2
20096205DTRaShon Harris20N/A
20097241TEDavid Johnson1531st/Wk3
2008123RBRashard Mendenhall411st/Wk4
2008253WRLimas Sweed140N/A
2008388LBBruce Davis50N/A
20085156QBDennis Dixon102nd/Wk12
20086194SRyan Mundy003rd/Wk15
2007115LBLawrence Timmons1702nd/Wk9
2007246LBLaMarr Woodley1402nd/Wk1
2007377TEMatt Spaeth1571st/Wk2
20074112PDaniel Sepulveda1701st/Wk1
20075170CBWilliam Gay1702nd/Wk11
2006125WRSantonio Holmes1641st/Wk14
2006383SAnthony Smith1641st/Wk14
2006395WRWillie Reid10N/A
20064131TWillie Colon221st/Wk16
2005130TEHeath Miller20191st/Wk 1
2005262CBBryant McFadden1611st/Wk 13
2005393TTrai Essex641st/Wk 11
20055166LBRian Wallace60N/A
20056204GChris Kemoeatu002nd/Wk6
20057244RBNoah Herron70N/A
2004111QBBen Roethlisberger16151st/Wk3
2004238CBRicardo Colclough180N/A
2004375TMax Starks1202nd/Wk1
20046194TEMatt Kranchick202nd/Wk10
2003116STroy Polamalu1602nd/Wk1
2003259LBAlonzo Jackson20N/A
20034125CBIke Taylor1611st/Wk12
2002130GKendall Simmons16161st/Wk2
2002262WRAntwaan Randle El1802nd/Wk4
2002394SChris Hope1603rd/Wk1
20024128LBLarry Foote1631st/Wk2
20025166RBVerron Haynes140N/A
20026202WRLee Mays1803rd/Wk17
20027242DEBrett Keisel705th/Wk1
2001119NTCasey Hampton18131st/Wk7
2001239LBKendrell Bell18181st/Wk 1
20014111TMathias Nkwenti10N/A
20015146CChukky Okobi102nd/Wk8
20016181DERodney Bailey1811st/Wk3

  • zbluez1

    Based upon the historical trend Dave, I have to agree. I still have my reservations about Adams as I am sure a lot of Steeler nation does, but IF the kid does what he told K.C. and M.T. he would, and Coach K. can get all his tools cleaned up and back into his toolbox in an orderly fashion I can see an outside shot that he could start week one at Left tackle and have Gilbert start at Right tackle. Who knows you may yet get to see Colon at a guard spot ( peers into his cracked crystal ball ) but the future right now is a bit cloudy looking. Let the camp battles begin !!!!

  • Jefferson St. Joe

    I expect Rainey and Ta’amu will have contributing roles before the season is over, but starting is not likely for either.

  • Timothy Rea

    Ta’amu might start. Who knows if Hampton makes it back at all. McClendon is a decent enough player but can he hold off the rookie in camp? Does hood have what it takes to suit up at NT better than either of them? I doubt it.

  • Sonny

    Please Colon can’t play guard, his feet are barely able to play tackle. I really believe Colon’s time is about up. Too many injuries,, not the normal nicks but season ending colossal injuries. ABC, anybody but Colon

  • Pete

    Adams definitely has a chance at starting at some point in his rookie season. DeCastro is expected to start from day 1 from everything I’ve read so far. Yes, training camp will be interesting.

  • stan

    Here’s how good this draft was for the steelers: Not only is DeCastro going to start for a 12-4 team with 23 of its starters returning (I’m counting the specialists), but the top 5 picks are all locks to make the roster and are all very likely to make an impact. Not only that but its sounded from the Tomlin/Colbert post-draft press conference that three of the 7th rounders are likely to make the roster too. That’s pretty special. I think we’re talking 1974 draft kind of impact here.

  • stan

    I agree. I’ve been on the bandwagon to make Colon a guard for years because I think he’s too slow-footed to even play tackle. However, if the Steelers are ever going to play a pulling game with DeCastro it makes no sense to play Colon because they’ll only be able to pull in one direction.

  • zbluez1

    Which is why I like Ryan Lee or Foster to start at left guard, Lee being even more mobile than Foster. See my other posts on Ryan Lee, but he has a lot of work to do to even make the team much less get a helmet or start where as Foster is a known quantity. Still a lot of things can happen in camp so you never know until they play the game.

  • stan

    The only way Adams doesn’t start at some point this season (assuming his personal problems are over, knock on wood) is if Gilbert and Colon remain healthy and effective, in which case we’re extremely happy anyway.

  • Bleebo77

    Echoing Stan, I am just in 7th heaven that we got a 1st round player who is as close as you can get to an opening day starter. (Knock on wood 1000x), but DeCastro has practically zero bust potential. Look back over the list of 1st round players and see how many teams simply don’t know what they are going to get out of the player they drafted. It’s a good thing when the success of your 1st pick is almost a given, which leaves us debating whether the picks in other rounds will pan out. It’s a good day to be a Steelers fan!

  • reg38

    Ryan Lee will be lucky to make the practice squad.

  • zbluez1

    Oh Ye of little faith! The kid is a grinder with heart and good measurables. Never count out such a player. Same was said of a few others in years past one J. Harrison comes to mind and I think he’s done alright for the Steelers. It was once said that he’d be lucky to make the practice squad after being cut a few times or that he’d never see the field being too far down on the depth chart, yadda yadda and so forth! lets see what the kid does in camp, if he can live up to measurables he may be another UDFA gem for the Steelers.

  • stan

    I’m sure I’m not the only one gushing over this draft, but has anyone looked at what Drew Butler has done in college? He’s Kiper’s #2 punter and would seem to be in a good position to unseat Kapinos.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    If Ryan Lee starts in 2012, I will be completely surprised. He is a project….nothing more, nothing less. Even your JH example is a guy who it took multiple years to grow onto a team.

  • zbluez1

    True that, which is why I believe Foster will start and barring injury Ryan Lee will be on the practice squad, however it would not surprise me IF there is an injury to either Foster, Legursky, or Essex that this kid makes it to the active roster because he is position flexible as well as having good measurables. We have seen this kind of situation happen before where a relatively unknown and unheralded player makes an impact when nobody thought they would and circumstances worked out that way.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree with Sonny. I think is is just like the situation with punter.Daniel Sepulveda & Aaron Smith, where after too many seasons ending early with injuries, time to move on to avoid another year of a wasted roster spot & injury money. Colon’s situation was also like Aaron Smith’s in that we didnt have enough good replacement candidates (yet) therefore we had no choice but to keep them on the roster. Not sure we have a reliable replacement yet at RT to replace Colon, but it looks like that time will arrive within 1 year, one way or another (we just dont know whether that will be Starks or which one of the young guys on our roster now)..

  • Dave

    I agree that “week 1” is probably too optimistic for anyone but DeCastro.

  • James

    I don’t expect him to start but surely Ta’amu will be dressed whilst Casey is injured, especially with the altitude of Denver in week 1.

  • Double D should be our starting RG and he could also be moved to LG with Foster at RG. I do like Lee and Beachum as two guys who need a year of practice squad seasoning but both have the measurables to one day be starting guards for us.

  • Fish

    Only time will tell, but it certainly seems right now that they’ve hit a home run with this class.