Pittsburgh Steelers: Grading the Team's First Round of 2012 NFL Draft

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IApril 26, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 and David DeCastro #52 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrate after Luck threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz #86 in the third quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Prior to the start of the 2012 NFL draft, there was much speculation as to what player the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to take with the 24th overall selection. Staying true to form, they were going to select the best available player.

Through many mock drafts, most people had players like Mike Adams, Dontari Poe, Dont'a Hightower and Cordy Glenn.

None of those names were on the Steelers' draft card, even though all of them with the exception of Poe were available when the Steelers selected.

With the 24th pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected David DeCastro, G, Stanford.

With a desperate need at guard, the Steelers were able to stay with their pick and get the best guard available in the draft.

DeCastro should be able to earn a starting spot on the Steelers' offensive line from day one.

At 6'5" and 315 lbs, DeCastro will immediately be penciled in starting at right guard and will play between former first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon.

Though some people will say that the Steelers missed out on a possible replacement for James Farrior, passing on Dont'a Hightower, the need at Guard was simply too much to pass up, especially with a player like DeCastro available.

Though this is not a "pretty" draft pick, the Steelers didn't need to be pretty. What the Steelers needed was an "ugly" draft. Being able to select DeCastro is the first step to solidifying the offensive line, with three players selected in the last three years in the first two rounds.

Being able to stay with their original pick and being able to draft a player that will remind many people of Alan Faneca, the Steelers came out of the first round with a draft grade of A+.

If they can continue this success into the second and third rounds, it will help bring success to the Steelers for years to come.

The Steelers still have needs along the offensive line, and are likely to spend another pick there in the second or third round.  Their other greatest need comes on the defensive side of the ball, where they will need to address the nose tackle position.

I look for the Steelers to use their second-round selection on the replacement for Casey Hampton. Possibilities include Alameda Ta'amu from Washington.

Ta'amu would have a year to play behind Casey Hampton which will help him learn behind one of the best nose tackles in the NFL.

Though Ta'amu was projected to be a mid to late second-round pick, the Steelers may still need to trade up in the second round to have the ability to select him, but even if they don't they may choose Josh Chapman out of Alabama in the third round or Nick Jean-Baptiste from Baylor.

If the Steelers do wait until the third or fourth round to address the NT position, then there is a good chance they could spend their second- and/or third-round pick on offensive linemen as well.

With so few offensive linemen taken in the first round of the draft, there is still a lot of quality available in the second round.

Players such as Cordy Glenn (Georgia), Amini Silatolu (Midwestern State), Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) and Brandon Brooks (Miami of Ohio) all still available with second-round grades, as are Brandon Washington (Miami of Florida) and Tony Bergstrom (Utah) with third-round grades. One or more could be available with the Steelers' next two selections.

If the Steelers decide to go the route of offensive tackle, players such as Jonathan Martin (Stanford), Mike Adams (Ohio State), Bobby Massie (California), Jeff Allen (Illinois), Zebrie Sanders (FSU) and James Brown (Troy) would all be able to challenge Willie Colon to start at right tackle, or at least be able to provide much-needed depth.

With all of the available offensive linemen, the Steelers could concievably come out of the first four rounds with two new starters on the offensive line. If you put them with Maurkice Pouncy and Marcus Gilbert, that would provide the Steelers with four starters drafted in the first three rounds in the last three years.

What was once an area of weakness, the Steelers are building an offensive line that may become one of the best in the NFL.