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.