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.

YEARRNDPICKPOSPLAYERACTIVESTARTED1ST START
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