Steelers' draft a matter of timing
By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
The Steelers didn't necessarily get everyone they wanted during the NFL Draft, but offensive linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams had something to do with that.
With DeCastro and Adams sliding down the draft board, the Steelers didn't get the high-value defensive back or linebacker they coveted. Not that they're complaining.
“When you put a draft board together, you are just hoping and you know where you want to add some youth and competition,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “You let the board dictate when it's going to be available, and sometimes it fits together.”
Coach Mike Tomlin trumpeted his commitment to last year's rookie cornerbacks, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, by waiting until the seventh round to select Texas A&M cornerback Terrence Frederick. Tomlin and Colbert didn't appear too concerned about the departures of veteran corners William Gay (Arizona) and Bryant McFadden.
“I do think the Steelers like those young corners, and it's a situation that they know those guys,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. “They were drafted and brought in, and they've worked with them, so they know what they're made of.
“They feel they have some young kids who are ready to go. So they drafted accordingly to their board. It's not as if they took guys who are overrated or overhyped or overdrafted.”
Frederick's chance of making the active roster hinges largely on his special teams performance. Brown, who missed much of the 2011 preseason with injuries, led the Steelers in special team tackles but his role may change significantly in his second year.
“I feel the Steelers think (Brown and Allen) are better than people thought they were,” Kiper said. “Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin have a great handle on what their personnel can do. I think it's one of the reasons why they passed on some (defensive backs) earlier in the draft.”
The Steelers signed two undrafted rookie defensive backs — cornerback Terry Carter of Louisiana Tech and safety Robert Golden of Arizona. Frederick, a three-year starter with the Aggies, will get a long look during this weekend's rookie orientation.
“(Frederick) has a chance to contribute at a position where we feel we could use some depth and competition,” Colbert said.
Kiper said Sean Spence, a linebacker from Miami, was perhaps the Steelers' most intriguing selection. A third-round pick, Spence weighs only 230 pounds, and his pass-coverage skills convinced some scouts he might be a better fit at safety.
“At one point, it looked like he would be a safety,” Kiper said. “Now, it looks as if he's going to be a 3-4 weak-side linebacker. So, now we'll see how he fits in in Pittsburgh.”
While Kiper gave the Steelers a B grade, he doubts Adams is the right fit for the Steelers.
“Adams isn't what the Steelers are about,” he said. “He is more of a finesse guy. He is not the guy who gets after you. He's not consistent, and he's lackadaisical in his performance.
“But DeCastro is a typical Steeler offensive lineman. I'm surprised he dropped all the way to 24th, and I'm sure the (Steelers) were, too.”
Note: The Steelers are hosting fan camps June 23-24 in Mexico City. Attending will be linebacker James Harrison, defensive end Brett Keisel, receiver Emmanuel Sanders and safety Ryan Mundy, among others. For information on registration, visit www.ticketmaster.com.mx.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923.
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