Found February 10, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
There has been a lot of talk this off-season about the Steelers last couple of drafts. Many fans are upset with the Steelers last few drafts and believe they need to turn things around in 2013 to get back to the playoffs. The problem with that thinking is that the last three drafts for the Steelers haven’t been all that bad. In fact, the Steelers have found some very good players the last three years.
The reason many fans may be looking down on the last few drafts is, most likely, due to the performance of the 2012 draft class. However, it’s hard for a draft class to show much when two of the first three picks are lost to injury before the start of the regular season. What also has to be remembered is that the Steelers were picking 24th last year, 31st in 2011 and 18th in 2010. Those aren’t exactly the highest draft choices and when you are drafting on the back half of each round it can be harder to find the best talent.
Also, when evaluating the NFL draft you have to keep in mind that picks after the third round are often risky. Then there are sixth and seventh round picks that rarely turn into anything of value. So with all of that in mind let’s take a look at what the Steelers have done with their 29 picks over the last three years.
Busts - We’ll start with the players that didn’t make the cut. DT Doug Worthington, OG Chris Scott and OLB Thaddeus Gibson in 2010. OG Keith Williams in 2011 and CB Terrence Frederick and WR Toney Clemons in 2012. That list includes a fourth round pick, a fifth round pick, a sixth round pick and three seventh round picks.
Of the 29 players the Steelers have drafted the last three years only eight of them are no longer with the team. Those eight include the six busts listed above as well as CB Crezdon Butler and RB Chris Rainey. Butler showed some promise as a corner, but he left for Arizona in free agency. Rainey was supposed to be the kick returner of the future as well as an offensive play-maker, but off-field issues led to his release.
That leaves 21 players on the roster from the last three drafts or an average of seven per year, which is the amount of picks each team starts with each draft. Now of those 21 players there are 12 that could be starters at the beginning of the 2013 season. That includes possibly all five starting offensive lineman. Maurkice Pouncey (2010 first round) will, of course, be the starting center. The guards could be David DeCastro (2012 first round) and Kelvin Beachum (2012 seventh round) and the tackles are expected to be Marcus Gilbert (2011 second round) and Mike Adams (2012 second round).
Antonio Browns (2010 sixth round) could be the Steelers number receiver in 2013 with the impending loss of Mike Wallace. Also at receiver is Emmanuel Sanders (2010 third round), who could be the second or third receiver on the depth chart next year. If the Steelers don’t find a new running back in the off-season Jonathan Dwyer (2010 sixth round) could be the starter in 2013 and Baron Batch (2011 seventh round) could be the Steelers third down back. At tight end the Steelers may be forced to start David Paulson (2012 seventh round) until Heath Miller returns from a knee injury. Mike Tomlin really likes Paulson and expects big things so that could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.
On the defensive side of the ball the Steelers could be starting Cortez Allen (2011 fourth round) at corner if Keenan Lewis leaves in free agency. Their other young corner Curtis Brown (2011 third round) would then be the front runner to be the Steelers nickel corner in 2013. Larry Foote is a free agent and if he is not re-signed the Steelers could start Sean Spence (2012 third round) or Stevenson Sylvester (2010 fifth round). However, if neither player starts in 2013 they will still both play lots of special teams snaps.
James Harrison and Brett Keisel could both be cap casualties this off-season due to the Steelers salary cap issues. That means Cameron Heyward (2011 first round) and Jason Worilds (2010 second round) could be starters on defense next season. Many have pegged Worilds as a bust, but when you have the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison, and LaMarr Woodley in front of you it’s hard to make much of an impression.
The spot that Worilds is expected to fill (unless the Steelers find a new outside linebacker in the off-season) was held, at least at the beginning of the 2012 season, by Chris Carter (2011 fifth round). He will be competing for a job again this summer and if he has added some size and strength he could be an option to replace Harrison.
Finally, we have Alameda Ta’amu (2012 fourth round). Like Rainey, Ta’amu had off-field issues his rookie season and will have to regain the team’s trust if he wants to stick around. Ta’amu was one of the best nose tackle prospects in 2012 and if he can develop could be a candidate to replace Casey Hampton, although that spot will likely go to McLendon making Ta’amu the back-up.
Now like I said the Steelers haven’t exactly had mind blowing drafts the last three years, but they haven’t been terrible either. The last three draft classes could account for 12 starters in 2013 depending on off-season moves and could contribute 22 players to the active roster. For a better understanding that would be 55% percent of the starters on the team and 42% of the total roster coming from the last three drafts.
I guess what that means is either these drafts haven’t been as bad as many have made them out to be or we are looking at a very bad Steelers team heading into the future. As for me I think we are looking at more of the former and I believe these three draft classes along with the upcoming 2013 draft class will help the Steelers return to form in 2013 and take them back to the playoffs.
The post The Steelers Last Three Drafts Haven’t Been Great, but They Haven’t Been Terrible Either appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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