The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away. The last few offseasons, we dove into a Steelers NFL draft class starting with the 2004 NFL Draft and outlined a successive draft each week. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers was highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. Each year was outlined with the last three draft classes all combined into one since a large number of the players were still with the team.
Since it worked the last two seasons, and since a lot of the research has already been done, let’s look back at they players from these drafts yet again, this time looking at two different years, on separate days, each week leading up to the last week of April. The last two years started with 2004 because Ben Roethlisberger had played the previous year. With Big Ben now retired, we’ll start with the 2011 draft since Cam Heyward is the oldest drafted player on the Steelers from 2022. For players no longer in the league, a lot of the information will be the same while others will be updated where needed.
Part 2 of 10 will highlight the Steelers 2012 NFL draft where one player is still in the NFL
So let’s take a look at the nine players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL draft:
Having David DeCastro available to draft at the 24th pick in 2012 was something many Steelers’ fans did not think would happen. Unfortunately, a significant knee injury during the preseason kept DeCastro out of all but four games his rookie season as he started the final three contests of the year. Ever since, DeCastro was a fixture at right guard for the Steelers with the most games he missed in a season being three in 2020. From 2015 to 2020, DeCastro has earned Pro Bowl selections each season as well as being named first team All-Pro in 2015 and 2017. DeCastro was released by the Steelers in June of 2021 after mini camp when it was discovered he was going to likely need surgery on bone spurs in his feet. Although a big deal was not made of it, DeCastro retired from the NFL ater his release.
Offensive tackle, Ohio St.
After a positive drug test at the 2012 NFL scouting combine, many teams passed on Mike Adams. Unfortunately, Adams convinced the Steelers he was worth the flyer and they selected him in the second round. Adams started six games throughout his rookie season and started the first four games of 2013 despite being stabbed in June in what was at first described as a robbery and later believed to be merely a fight. Adams was benched after those four starts for ineffective play but still managed 10 total starts on the season. In three years with the Steelers, Adams started a total of 20 games. Placed on the PUP list in 2015 due to back surgery, Adams missed the entire season and was released the following May with a failed physical. Adams signed with the Chicago Bears mid training camp in 2016 and played in 12 games before another back injury ended both his season and his career.
Linebacker, Miami (FL)
Looking to be a promising young linebacker in his first preseason, Sean Spence suffered a horrible knee injury in his final preseason game and missed the next two seasons. Spence managed to return in 2014 and played two years for the Steelers in 31 games where he started 13 and had 2.0 sacks, a fumble recovery, and 90 tackles. After a year in Tennessee in 2016 and three games in Indianapolis in 2017, Spence was brought back for the final four games of the season in Pittsburgh after the career-ending injury to Ryan Shazier where the Steelers also lost Tyler Matakevich in the same game. Spence finished out the year with 19 tackles in his four starts which was his last year in the NFL.
Defensive tackle, Washington
Giving up their sixth round pick, the Steelers traded up 10 spots with the Washington Redskins in order to draft Ta’amu. Already having a DUI charge from college, Ta’amu was suspended two games by the Steelers for conduct detrimental to the team when he was arrested for evading police while intoxicated and striking several cars and injuring one person. Having not appeared in a game for the Steelers, Ta’amu was cut in November and signed to the practice squad. After failing to make the 53-man roster in 2013, he was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals. Appearing in 21 games and starting three over the next two seasons, Ta’amu was released by the Cardinals before the start of the 2015 regular season. After a brief offseason stint with both the Chiefs and the Bills, Ta’amu was out of the league after 2016.
Running back, Florida
In his rookie season, Rainey appeared in all 16 games for the Steelers and had two rushing touchdowns on 26 attempts. Used more as a kickoff return specialist, Rainey had 39 returns for over 1000 yards and a 26.5 yards per return average as well as three punt returns for 16 yards. Following his rookie season, Rainey was released by the Steelers when he was arrested on a battery charge. Rainey signed with the Indianapolis Colts in November 2013 and appeared in two games before landing on season ending IR. Rainey was released at the beginning of training camp in 2014 by the Colts for a violation of team rules which they did not specify. Rainey landed on the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals for two weeks at the beginning of 2014 before transitioning to the Canadian Football League where he played through 2021.
Wide receiver, Colorado
Failing to make the 53-man roster his rookie season, Clemmons landed on the Steelers practice squad in 2012. Poached in late November by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Clemmons appeared in four games with three receptions on 11 targets for 41 yards. Failing to make the Jaguars in 2013, Clemmons landed on the Chargers practice squad for several weeks. Jumping to the Carolina Panthers practice squad in October, Clemmons only made it to the end of November before he was cut. Signed to a Reserve/Future contract with the Panthers in 2014, Clemens failed to make the team and never returned the NFL.
Tight end, Oregon
Making the Steelers 53-man roster his first two years in the league, Paulson appeared in all 16 games both seasons and had a total of nine starts. With only 13 receptions for 153 yards in two seasons, Paulson was a key contributor on the Steelers special teams in 2012 and 2013. After not making the roster in 2014, Paulson spent the majority of 2014 on the Chargers practice squad. Failing to make the Chargers in 2015, Paulson found himself out of the NFL.
Defensive back, Texas A&M
Failing to stick with the Steelers as a rookie, Frederick found himself on and off the New York Giants practice squad as well as appearing in two games. After landing on the Browns practice squad in 2013, Frederick was signed by the Saints at the end of the season but did not appear in a game. Making New Orleans’ practice squad in 2014, Frederick was added to the roster late in the season and appeared in three games where he had 17 tackles. Failing to make the team in 2015, Frederick transitioned to play two seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Offensive tackle, SMU
The only member of the Steelers 2012 draft class still in the NFL, Kelvin Beachum was a fantastic selection as the Steelers third seventh-round compensatory pick. Playing almost every spot across the offensive line for the Steelers, Beauchum eventually settled in as the starting left tackle and started 39 games in four seasons in Pittsburgh. Suffering a knee injury after six games in 2015, Beachum was replaced by Alejandro Villanueva who has started every game at left tackle for the Steelers through 2020. Signing a lucrative deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, Beachum ended up being a seventh-round compensatory draft pick which turned into a third-round pick for Steelers. After one season in Jacksonville and three with the New York Jets, Beachum started all 16 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2020. Beachum signed a two-year deal to stay in Arizona during the 2021 offseason and started all 17 games in 2022. Although he will turn 34 this summer, Beachum signed another two-year deal with the Cardinals again in 2023..