Give Respect Where It\’s Due

By Christopher DiMarino

We\’re almost three weeks removed from the 2012 NFL draft and the excitement still hasn\’t settled as we move into the lull between the draft and training camp. This lull will lead to everyone severely over analyzing the draft and mainly who got who where. The reality is that only time will tell us which team made the best decisions. Injuries, off field issues and limited chances stand to plague this year\’s crop of rookies, but right now with a clean slate and all the possibilities in the world, it\’s time to analyze this year\’s draft.

I feel really good about this draft class. Call it luck or call it intuition, but the Pittsburgh Steelers addressed almost every key need in some way. After getting lucky with David DeCastro (considering the planned trade up that fell through), the Steelers took, what many would call, three big question marks. The difference between them is the perceived value they hold. Mike Adams has high value considering he was a first round talent with elite size. Sean Spence was a bit of a reach to a few because he didn\’t directly fill a need at linebacker and wasn\’t on many people\’s draft radars perhaps that early. Alameda Ta\’amu was a huge value dropping to the 4th round (2nd round value) and merited a trade up. Chris Rainey adds a special volume when it comes to the return game and his special offensive talents made him a fifth round novelty. For the purpose of this article I\’ll leave the 7th rounders out.

Adams may have a checkered past and a questionable head, but he is in a program where he can succeed. The same can be said for Spence\’s lack of elite timed athleticism and Ta\’amu\’s supposedly had weight issues and a questionable motor. All of these players come with their vices but all of them stand to have a huge payoff. If Adams becomes the star he is capable of being, then the offensive line might make the biggest leap in Steeler history. Spence will likely dominate special teams and may even develop into a great run stopper down the road with his attuned instincts. Ta\’amu can likely plug the middle of the line for many years to come. Albeit a lot of these players have a lot of work to do to get to this level, they are all in capable hands.

One could argue that the Steelers filled almost all of their needs considering the additions to the offensive line, defensive front and special teams. Not only did they get “steals” but they also fulfilled needs without trading much. Anyone grading this draft out would have to give them a high mark. They might not have picked the sexy positions like wide receiver, quarterback and cornerback, but that’s because they didn\’t have key needs at those positions. So why is it that most of these articles that I read grading the top few teams in the 2012 drafts never mention the Steelers?

I don\’t want to gloat, but it is no secret that the Steelers have sustained success over so many years because of their ability to draft and develop. That might take the magnifying glass off of the Steelers, but it shouldn\’t stray too far. This draft was nothing short of spectacular. It is very possible that if we look back in a few years we may cringe at this year\’s draft, but standing where we are right now, its tough not to smile. The fact that many are not putting the Steelers on their radar post draft is a surprise and a shock. On second thought, let it be a fact I take pride in, because no matter how little others are looking now, they will all be able to see what the Steelers do in September.

  • Xing Zhou

    I’d prefer Steelers staying under the radar. With the embarrassing and hectic off seasons we’ve had recently, it’s nice to be that silent predator that no one knows to be afraid of until it’s too late.

    For some reason, this article pumps me up so much for the coming seasons!

    Good article!

  • The grading on the Steelers has been funny. It seems to me there was a very clear and significant difference between the teams and the draftniks on smaller ILB’s this year and that seems to be the crux of team grades thus far with the teams that made those picks being guilty of overdrafts and thus lower grades.

    I also think the Steelers suffered a bit by starting with a home run and everything being downhill from there.

    My pet theory for this years grade is that if the Steelers had drafted Ta’amu in the third and Spence in the fourth they would have had a much higher grade. I don’t think Spence would have been there but It would have followed projections better.

    The amazing thing about the Steelers draft is that it compares favorably with teams that had high and or multiple first round picks. I’m really excited that we should be able to once again run the ball when we need to for the first time in years.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Cincy and Baltimore almost always get high marks post draft. We get solid grades, but never the hoopla. I am okay with that. Next December when they are trying to figure out how we are still in the running for the #1 seed…the will suddenly start talking about how good our draft was.

  • Pete

    We can’t get a true grade on a draft until a few years later or a significant number of snaps. This draft looks does look great on paper. I agree, the potential is there for this to be an amazing draft for the Steelers. However, every draft has the same potential. We should temper our expectations until we see these guys perform.

    DeCastro has to perform as well. We won’t know what he’s got until the bullets start flying. When they took Pouncey, it was “yeah, yeah, he could be good,” but it was in camp, where he overtook the incumbent Hartwig like he was a pylon, that we got to see just how good this kid is. Dermontti Dawson was raving about him. We need to wait a while before we can make good judgements on these kids, even DeCastro.

  • Jwahl912

    Can’t wait to see what Redman can do behind this new line! I’m ready to see Mendenhall go…too much dancing for me. So tired of watching us get stuffed @ the goal line. With Redman power and Rainey speed along with improved o-line play…not to mention best WR core in the league, Steeler offense should be unstoppable! When we can score, the D will once again be the scariest in the league! I can’t wait for 2012 Steeler football. Can we just stay healthy this year and bring home our 7th championship. Long live Steeler Nation!

  • Dputt

    As a Stiller fan living in Washington DC, we do have to be careful about pre-season excitement. Down here they call this the best part of football season, as it is the only time the Redskins have been “winners”. While this draft portends good things, we get many of our best players outside of the draft (think Farrior, Fast Willie Parker, James Harrison, etc.). to the author’s point, the combination of adept drafting, off-draft acquisitions, and player development is the root of the Steeler’s success.

  • Why exactly do we need to wait? I’ve never understood the risk of enjoying your entertainment too much. If you can’t risk predictions like that how can you risk things like driving or leaving the house. Those things have pretty real, significant risk by comparison.

  • Wdmason

    If we had drafted Ta’amo in the 3rd and Spence in the 4th, everyone would say perfect draft. But that shows how much they wanted Sean Spence.

  • William “WC” Brown

    The Steelers has always been (until lately) a ball control offensive team. I never could understand why teams want to score quickly, thus putting the defense on the field quicker, and if you have a team with many aging veterans, that just leads to players getting tired quicker and an increase in injuries. When Cody was available last year the Steelers passed on him and low and behold, Baltimore sanpped him up and now he’s on the Ravens roster. Anyway, back to my point. Back in the day, you knew what the Steelers brought to the table when you played them. Ball control, run down your throat offense to loosen you up, hit you with the big pass play when you least expect it, and a swarmng defense that had been rested up from the long time consuming drives. I realize the NFL has become a passing league, but that doesn’t mean every team has to conform to that. The successful teams stay with their formula and it’s up to the rest of the league try to counter it. It’s my hope that the Steelers stick with their tried and true formula. There’s a reason why they have won six chamionships, and it’s not by doing things the NFL way, but by doing things the Steelers way. Let’s hope with the veterans and the players in this years draft they go back to doing things the Steelers way.