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2015 NFL DRAFT

Finding the Fits: From big to small, Steelers find 'em all

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Alameda Ta'amu (74) has the size and power to take over at nose tackle for Dick LeBeau. (Getty Images)
Over the next several weeks, NFLDraftScout.com will be reviewing some of the more intriguing picks made during the 2012 NFL draft through a series called "Finding the Fits." The goal of the series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and therefore more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.

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If one was to go back and listen closely enough to the audio from Draft Day 2012, there might just be an audible groan on record that drifted from the other 31 NFL cities when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock with Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro still on the board.

Steelers' fans, of course, were rejoicing. So too, likely, were Steelers president Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, as the ideal solution to Pittsburgh's hole at guard just happened to still, surprisingly, be available.

While the Baltimore Ravens' Ozzie Newsome has earned more attention over the past decade and the Packers' Ted Thompson and Giants' Jerry Reese have generated a lot since -- all deservedly so, by the way -- no talent evaluator has enjoyed any greater success over the past decade than Colbert. By once again playing the draft as it came to him with a Best-Player-Available strategy, Colbert and Co. once again were among the big winners in the 2012 draft ... and it didn't end with the Stanford All-American at No. 24 overall.

DeCastro, himself, warrants an extended mention in this space because few first-round picks were better schematic and personality fits for their NFL teams than he will prove as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Considering how often quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likes to hold on to the ball, step into the pocket, hold on to the ball some more and then finally find a late-breaking receiver, protecting the inside is actually more important in Pittsburgh's scheme than sealing off the edges, which is why the combination of 2010 first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey (who has been selected to the Pro Bowl after each of his two NFL seasons) and DeCastro could be lethal for years to come.

Not that the Steelers had offensive tackle to worry about once Ohio State's Mike Adams fell to them in the second round. While he certainly has shown the poor decision-making and inconsistency over his career to justify falling even further, Adams has the size and talent of a top 20 pick. If anyone can get him to play up to his potential it will be Tomlin.

Getting a talented player to achieve up to his potential could also be the task at hand with fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu, as well. The 6-3, 348-pound former Washington Husky certainly has the bulk and power to take over for Casey Hampton as the Steelers' nose guard in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's beloved 3-4 defense. For the Steelers to enjoy the type of consistency on defense that they've had with Hampton in the middle, however, Ta'amu will have to ratchet up the intensity to levels that he didn't always play with in college. Ta'amu certainly played well when the lights were brightest, however, enjoying quite the breakthrough performance against Nebraska in the 2010 Holiday Bowl and dominating the line of scrimmage during practice sessions at the 2012 Senior Bowl. With the soon-to-be 35-year-old Hampton coming off a torn ACL, Ta'amu could be in line for significant playing time immediately.

Rarely do veteran teams like the Steelers get much production from their rookie class but this group could make a surprising impact. DeCastro, Adams and Ta'amu could all be starters in 2012. Pittsburgh could also see significant contributions from third-round linebacker Sean Spence as a coverage specialist and fifth-round running back/receiver dynamo Chris Rainey is precisely the type of versatile speedster that Todd Haley has successfully cultivated in previous stops in Arizona (J.J. Arrington) and Kansas City (Dexter McCluster).

The rest of the Steelers' picks:

1st Round - No. 24 overall - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
2nd Round - No. 52 overall - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
3rd Round - No. 82 overall - Sean Spence, OLB, Miami
4th Round - No. 115 overall - Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
5th Round - No. 145 overall - Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
7th Round - No. 231 overall - Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado
7th Round - No. 240 overall - David Paulson, TE, Oregon
7th Round - No. 246 overall - Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
7th Round - No. 248 overall - Kelvin Beachum, OG, Southern Methodist

Read more about all of the Steelers' picks here.

 
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