Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE
Four of the Steelers' top five draft picks in 2012 are either injured or just came off the IR-recall list. One was arrested and is now on the practice squad, and another was signed to another team's roster.
Any one person or writer, or any publication suggesting the Steelers would only have two rookies from their 2012 draft class play in all of their first 11 games would have been ridiculed.
Anyone suggesting David Paulson, one of the team's seventh round picks, would have been one of those two would have been mocked even more.
After 11 games, and with what could be a missed game for running back Chris Rainey, Paulson stands on the edge of being the only rookie to last through the first 12 games of the brutal NFL season.
Considering Rainey suffered an injury at the end of the Steelers' 20-14 loss at Cleveland in Week 12, and already has a rib injury to his credit this season, Paulson is unscathed at this point, which sets him apart from the rest of the often-inactive 2012 Steelers draft class.
First round pick David DeCastro was activated yesterday from the IR-Designated to Return list, and could make his first appearance this season in Week 13 when the Steelers travel to Baltimore for a game against the Ravens. Second round pick Mike Adams missed a game earlier this season, and left the Week 12 game with an ankle injury. His status isn't known right now.
Third round pick Sean Spence tore up his knee in the preseason and was lost for the year. Fourth round pick Alameda Ta'amu never dressed for a game before getting arrested in October. He was suspended two games and was released not long after his return to the active roster. He's currently on the Steelers' practice squad.
Rainey was the team's fifth round pick, and they didn't choose again until their four picks in the seventh round.
Wide receiver Toney Clemons didn't make the team and has spent this season on the practice squad. He was signed to Jacksonville's active roster Monday. Paulson was the second of the four, followed by cornerback Terence Frederick, who was cut and signed to the practice squad at the end of the preseason. Kelvin Beachum was the last pick, and he's been up and down in activation status, but could be an option to start at right tackle in Week 13.
He replaced Adams on the field against Cleveland, his second fill-in duty this season. Former starter Marcus Gilbert (who was placed on the IR Monday) was injured in Week 3 when the Steelers played the Raiders. That was the game Adams missed, thrusting Beachum onto the field.
This isn't to suggest the draft was poor - and actually could be seen as a strong one with the further development of Adams, Rainey and Paulson by the season's end, let alone the inclusion of DeCastro. But the amount of injuries they've faced is considerably above average.
Just imagine, next Steelers' training camp will be like having a rookie class of 15-18 draft picks, plus undrafted free agents.