1 (24) OG David DeCastro - Stanford
This was a best case scenario. A dream scenario. Some saw DeCastro as a top ten talent in this draft. While no one expected him to be picked that high because of the position he plays the prevailing wisdom was that he was clearly a top twenty pick. The early plan is for DeCastro to step in immediately on the right side where he played in college. Ramon Foster will move to the left side to compete with Doug Legursky. Eventually DeCastro's skills should move him to the left where his ability to pull will be more heavily utilized.
2 (54) OT Mike Adams - Ohio St
Adams was suspended for parts of each of his last two years at Ohio State. He tested positive at the combine, lied to teams including the Steelers in interviews about his marijuana use and was removed from the Steelers draft board. Then the story gets interesting. Adams reached out to the Steelers and made a trip to Pittsburgh from his Dublin, OH home to try to convince the front office to reconsider. He reportedly agreed to certain stipulations including counseling and then followed through on his promises. When on the field he combines prototypical length with surprising agility and at least adequate feet. His performance at the Senior Bowl had some suggesting he could move into the draft's top fifteen. Max Starks tore his ACL in the playoff game and is unlikely to be back. Counting on Willie Colon to successfully return at anything resembling full strength after a pair of season ending injuries is problematic at best. Adams is the Steelers third offensive lineman picked in the first two rounds in the last two years joining DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert.
3 (82) ILB Sean Spence - Miami, Fla
Expected to be selected in about this range. Surprise pick because most believe he fits best on the weak side in a 4-3. All the undersized Spence did for The U was make plays. He will start his career as a backup to Lawrence Timmons. This is where he seems to fit best in the Steelers scheme which made his selection even more surprising given the need in the middle on the strong side after the release and retirement of James Farrior. The front office must have really liked his playmaking ability. At the least Spence should be a demon on special teams.
4 (109) NT Alameda Ta'amu - Washington
Traded up ten picks at the cost of a sixth rounder to target a position of need. Casey Hampton is recovering from a torn ACL in the playoff debacle in Denver. He turns 35 before the start of the season and is a candidate for the PUP list. His backup Chris Hoke retired. Ta'amu was expected to be a second day pick. He has the strength and body type to step into the interior line immediately. More a penetrator and playmaker in Washington's scheme, Ta�amu will need to be receptive to coaching and a different role. He has had trouble in the past with his shoulders and knee which likely caused his drop on draft day.
5 (159) RB Chris Rainey - Florida
Rainey lived with Maurkice Pouncey's family for a time in high school. He is an explosive playmaker from the backfield, slot and in the return game. Inability to pass protect due to lack of size would have likely made it difficult for him to get on the field in the offense of former coordinator Bruce Arians. He seems like a poor man's Dexter McCluster for new coordinator Todd Haley.
7 (231) WR Toney Clemons - Colorado
A graduate of Valley HS in the Pittsburgh suburb of New Kensington Clemons sort of got lost in the shuffle in a bad Colorado program after transferring from Michigan. Then he ran a 4.43 40 at this pro day while measuring 6'2.1" and 210 lbs. He also had a 10'8" broad jump and 6.93 short shuttle. Clemons had 8 touchdowns and averaged over 15 yards per catch as a senior in a sputtering offense for a team that went 3-10. A top recruit out of high school he is the cousin of Chiefs Steve Breaston and Olympic gold medal winning women's basketball player Swim Cash. He got a visit to the South Side complex in the pre-draft process.
7 (240) TE David Paulsen - Oregon
An H-back/fullback type to compete with David Johnson. Paulson's numbers benefited from the athleticism surrounding him and fast break nature of the Oregon offense. He is not an inline tight end struggling as a blocker and to get off the line of scrimmage. He has excellent hands and decent length, but lacks athleticism and explosiveness. Probably my least favorite pick for the Steelers. He did visit Pittsburgh so the front office did their homework. Could conceivably bridge the gap until Weslye Saunders returns from suspension and then move to the practice squad until in a best case scenario eventually replacing Johnson.
7 (246) CB Terrence Fredrick - Texas A&M
Fredrick played in 50 games, starting 45 including the final 39 of his college career. Shaved a tenth of a second off his combine 40 time by running a 4.45 at his pro day. He posted solid times in the short shuttle (4.03) and 3-cone drill (6.59) at the combine showing good agility in workouts. Strong (16 bench press reps) and willing in run support. He has a reputation as an accountable, coachable hard worker which is always a plus for the Steelers front office. Better in zone than man coverage due to inconsistency playing with his back to the ball. Often too quick to bite on run fakes and will need refinement to his technique. Similar profile to William Gay at this stage with better measurables and more athletic upside, plus he was drafted two rounds later. Has a chance as a nickel, slot corner.
7 (248) OG Kelvin Beachum - SMU
Beachum started all 52 games of his college career at left tackle in the run and shoot offense of June Jones. He will have to move inside due to a lack of height. A practice squad project that will need to work on his upper body strength and improve his run blocking.
Undrafted rookie free agents:
P Drew Butler - UGa
CB Terry Carter - La Tech
WR Connor Dixon - Duquesne
SS Robert Golden - Arizona
DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun - Southern Conn St
C Ryan Lee - Furman
OLB Brandon Lindsey - Pitt
WR Marquis Maze - Alabama
K Grant Ressel - Missouri
OLB Adrian Robinson - Temple
OT Desmond Stapleton - Rutgers
DE Jake Stoller - Yale
The biggest name free agent signing is Maze. He would seem to have a legitimate chance to make the roster given the losses of Hines Ward and Arnaz Battle especially considering that only seventh rounder Clemons was added as a receiver in the draft. His ability as a dual return man doesn't hurt. Alas his similarity to fifth rounder Rainey despite being listed at a different position makes the task more difficult for Maze. Lindsey and Robinson are likely competing for a roster or practice squad spot as a fifth outside backer. Lindsey has more length and upside. Robinson�s ability to contribute on special teams boosts his case. Hopefully Iwbinosun can make the roster just to blow the minds of announcers everywhere. He actually has the size and athleticism to get a long look and perhaps land on the practice squad. Stapleton is the brother of former Steeler Darnell Stapleton. Both specialists are more than just camp fodder. Butler is the son of former Bears kicker Kevin Butler. He was generally rated behind third rounder Bryan Anger as the second best punter in this class. Ressel was incredibly accurate as a sophomore and junior despite a lack of top leg strength before getting off to a bad start last season and missing the final seven games with a hip flexor.