Pre-Draft Needs: G, NT, ILB, OT, CB, DE, RB
Round 1-David DeCastro/G
Round 2-Mike Adams/OT
Round 3-Sean Spence/LB
Round 4-Alameda Ta’amu/DT
Round 5-Chris Rainey/RB
Round 7-Toney Clemons/WR
Round 7-David Paulson/TE
Round 7-Terrence Frederick/CB
Round 7-Kelvin Beachum/G
CB (veteran), RB (veteran), DE
This was an interesting draft for the Steelers for various reasons. They were coming off a disappointing road loss in playoffs against the Denver Broncos, and they had at least five to six key needs to fill from both sides of the ball.
It’s not exactly a secret that the Steelers have had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL for many seasons. So it shouldn’t come to a surprise that they addressed the issue with G David DeCastro with their first-round pick. DeCasto was widely regarded as one of the top-three interior offensive linemen available for this draft. The Steelers already have one of the top centers in the NFL in Maurkice Pouncey. And with veteran RT Willie Colon moving inside to LG, the Steelers should be able to put together a really solid group on the inside. The outside is where things are a bit questionable.
To address the left tackle position, the Steelers selected OT Mike Adams in the second round. Adams is capable of playing either side, but will line up on the left as a rookie. Adams brings ideal size for the position at over 6-7, but will need to clean up footwork and mechanical issues with game going forward.
With the release of veteran ILB James Farrior earlier this year, the team addressed filling the role of his possible successor with the selection of ILB Sean Spence in the third round. Spence is known in scouting circles his speed and intelligence, but he’s a bit undersized for the position. Spence weighed in at 231 lbs during February’s NFL Scouting Combine.
The nose tackle position is one where the Steelers must address the future. With starter Casey Hampton turning 35 in September and only having played one full season in his last eight, the team addressed the position with fourth-round pick Alameda Ta’amu. It was thought that, based on his excellent Senior Bowl week performance, that he would be selected at least a round higher. As a personnel executive said, Ta’amu is the perfect 3-4 nose tackle. He has really good size and strength.
While running back wasn’t a huge priority for the Steelers, they certainly could use speed at the position. Fifth-round pick Chris Rainey is small, but has breakaway speed and elusiveness, two traits absent from the other backs on the roster. Look for Rainey to be used as a change-of-pace and on special teams returns.
The Steelers rounded out their draft with four selections in the seventh round. WR Toney Clemons is an interesting prospect. While known in scouting circles for having good size and decent play-making ability, the reason why he dropped so far is due to a lack of consistency to his game. Clemons will push for the No. 5 role as a rookie. TE David Paulson wasn’t overly productive in college, but is known in scouting circles for his good hands. He’ll compete for the No. 3 role at the position. Terrence Frederick is known in personnel circles for his physical play. He’s best used in the slot, but does not possess ideal speed for the position. He’ll compete for the No. 5 spot on the depth chart at cornerback. And finally, G Kelvin Beachum will compete for a job as the fifth guard. Known in scouting circles for his lack of size, Beachum makes up for it with good effort.
Overall, the Steelers will get two immediate starters out of this draft, but possibly as many as four over the first few seasons. And after addressing at least four needs, it appears this could be one of the better drafts from any of the 32 NFL teams this year.