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.

2011 1 31 DT Cam Heyward 17 0 N/A
2011 2 63 T Marcus Gilbert 15 14 1st/Wk 2
2011 3 95 CB Curtis Brown 12 0 N/A
2011 4 128 CB Cortez Allen 15 0 N/A
2011 5 162 LB Chris Carter 8 0 N/A
2010 1 18 C Maurkice Pouncey 18 18 1st/Wk 1
2010 2 52 LB Jason Worilds 15 0 2nd/Wk 9
2010 3 82 WR Emmanuel Sanders 16 1 1st/Wk17
2010 4 116 LB Thaddeus Gibson 2 0 N/A
2010 5 164 CB Crezdon Butler 4 0 N/A
2010 5 166 LB Stevenson Sylvester 19 0 2nd/Wk8
2010 6 188 RB Jonathan Dwyer 1 0 N/A
2010 6 195 WR Antonio Brown 12 0 2nd/Wk10
2009 1 32 DE Evander Hood 16 0 2nd/Wk8
2009 3 84 WR Mike Wallace 16 4 1st/Wk7
2009 3 96 CB Keenan Lewis 4 0 3rd/Wk3
2009 5 168 CB Joe Burnett 15 0 N/A
2009 5 169 RB Frank Summers 2 1 1st/Wk2
2009 6 205 DT RaShon Harris 2 0 N/A
2009 7 241 TE David Johnson 15 3 1st/Wk3
2008 1 23 RB Rashard Mendenhall 4 1 1st/Wk4
2008 2 53 WR Limas Sweed 14 0 N/A
2008 3 88 LB Bruce Davis 5 0 N/A
2008 5 156 QB Dennis Dixon 1 0 2nd/Wk12
2008 6 194 S Ryan Mundy 0 0 3rd/Wk15
2007 1 15 LB Lawrence Timmons 17 0 2nd/Wk9
2007 2 46 LB LaMarr Woodley 14 0 2nd/Wk1
2007 3 77 TE Matt Spaeth 15 7 1st/Wk2
2007 4 112 P Daniel Sepulveda 17 0 1st/Wk1
2007 5 170 CB William Gay 17 0 2nd/Wk11
2006 1 25 WR Santonio Holmes 16 4 1st/Wk14
2006 3 83 S Anthony Smith 16 4 1st/Wk14
2006 3 95 WR Willie Reid 1 0 N/A
2006 4 131 T Willie Colon 2 2 1st/Wk16
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
2005 5 166 LB Rian Wallace 6 0 N/A
2005 6 204 G Chris Kemoeatu 0 0 2nd/Wk6
2005 7 244 RB Noah Herron 7 0 N/A
2004 1 11 QB Ben Roethlisberger 16 15 1st/Wk3
2004 2 38 CB Ricardo Colclough 18 0 N/A
2004 3 75 T Max Starks 12 0 2nd/Wk1
2004 6 194 TE Matt Kranchick 2 0 2nd/Wk10
2003 1 16 S Troy Polamalu 16 0 2nd/Wk1
2003 2 59 LB Alonzo Jackson 2 0 N/A
2003 4 125 CB Ike Taylor 16 1 1st/Wk12
2002 1 30 G Kendall Simmons 16 16 1st/Wk2
2002 2 62 WR Antwaan Randle El 18 0 2nd/Wk4
2002 3 94 S Chris Hope 16 0 3rd/Wk1
2002 4 128 LB Larry Foote 16 3 1st/Wk2
2002 5 166 RB Verron Haynes 14 0 N/A
2002 6 202 WR Lee Mays 18 0 3rd/Wk17
2002 7 242 DE Brett Keisel 7 0 5th/Wk1
2001 1 19 NT Casey Hampton 18 13 1st/Wk7
2001 2 39 LB Kendrell Bell 18 18 1st/Wk 1
2001 4 111 T Mathias Nkwenti 1 0 N/A
2001 5 146 C Chukky Okobi 1 0 2nd/Wk8
2001 6 181 DE Rodney Bailey 18 1 1st/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.