Some Insight From 2012 Steelers Draft

Even though I've been a Steelers fan for a few decades, this is the first draft I've followed closely (meaning from the weeks of pre-draft mocks through the draft itself). Some things I find interesting.....

Doesn't Take Much For a Stud Guard to Drop

So how and why did DeCastro drop 10-15 places below where he was projected? I think it is due to the following reasons:

  • There were only a few teams that had an immediate need for a quality guard.
  • Of those that did, there were competing needs at positions that are typically chosen in the first round and early (tackle, edge rushers, etc.), and those teams bit on the other positions.
  • The draft is perceived to be deep at guard, and so even if you leave DeCastro on the table in round 1, you can come back and pick up a quality guard in rounds 2 and 3, perhaps unlike other positions of need.
  • Cleveland.

So DeCastro only needs to be passed up by a few teams that actually had a need to draft a guard, and then when Cleveland does their thing, he falls all the way to 24 where extreme need meets extreme value.

The Playbook is Changing

As pointed out in another post by KiwiSteelerFan the league is changing. When the FO is drafting players, they are looking to run a defense or offense for the next 5-10 years, not the previous 5-10 years. As a result, the types of players that may have been a fit for the Steelers to date (given positions of need) may not be the ones the FO will draft now. The great news here is that there is clearly a lot of thinking going on amongst the braintrust as to how to update the playbook for the future and how to draft into the next generation of Steeler offense and defense.

The best evidence of this may just be in the drafting of Sean Spence. This could be a really interesting player to watch, especially in exactly how he gets used. The reports on him always say that "he is always around the ball", just like Troy. Imagine having them both on the field at the same time!

I also really like the Rainey pick in round 5. There will be some special plays designed around his presence in the offense, I'm sure.

Drafting for Development and Special Teams and What It Implies

Most of us here know of the BPA strategy that the FO likes to use in the draft. This philosophy implies that rookies generally will sit on the bench for a season or two, since they are not drafted for a "need" position. It also implies that the "need" positions are more than likely to be filled in the next season by someone already on the roster, and in particular by someone drafted a season or two ago.

So if we look at needs like guard or linebacker or safety or NT, there is a good chance that the guy who will have the job next year is already on the roster, and so won't be the subject of a draft pick. Note that we didn't get a safety in this draft and we did not draft someone who is likely to replace Farrior or Harrison. The FO has a good sense that the successors are already on the roster and ready to step up, something that is difficult for us on the outside to really get a handle on.

The other thing about the way the player development pipeline works is that as players like Sylvester, Brown and Allen step into the starting lineup, their roles on special teams will have to be assumed by others, especially newly drafted players. I would be inclined to believe that the later round picks (esp. 5-7) to be mainly seen as special teams contributors with a very outside chance.

Just some observations from an old Steeler fan and new draft watcher.

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