2012 Pittsburgh Steelers draft analysis

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
4:30
PM ET
Let's break down the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2012 draft:

FIRST-ROUND SPOTLIGHT: The Steelers would've been happy to come away with either linebacker Dont'a Hightower or guard Kevin Zeitler at No. 24. Not only did both players fall to the Steelers but so did Stanford's David DeCastro, the top guard prospect in a decade. Pittsburgh couldn't have drawn up a better board. DeCastro is a physically dominant blocker who will immediately start at left or right guard. The Steelers can thank the Bengals for passing on him at No. 21.

IN HINDSIGHT: The riskiest move of the Steelers' strong draft was taking Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams with the 56th overall pick. He was clearly the best offensive lineman left late in the second round, and he fills another need on the offensive line. But Adams was removed briefly from the Steelers' draft board because of character concerns. Pittsburgh's other option was Oregon running back LaMichael James, who was taken by the 49ers five picks later.

BEST VALUE: NT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington. Memphis' Dontari Poe, the draft's top-rated nose tackle, was taken at No. 11. The Steelers got the second-best one in Ta'amu 98 picks later in the fourth round. That's unbelievable value. The massive Samoan is the heir apparent to Casey Hampton.

TOP LATE-ROUND PICKUP: RB Chris Rainey, Florida. His acceleration and high-cut speeds add a different look to the Steelers offense. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has to be creative with Rainey because of his size (5 feet 8, 178 pounds), but Rainey can make some big-time plays if used the right way. He also has three career touchdowns as a returner.

SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THIS DRAFT: Willie Colon. He might have lost his starting job when the Steelers drafted Adams in the second round, but he won't be losing money. After Colon refused to take a pay cut this offseason, the Steelers agreed to restructure his contract to create salary-cap room. Colon received $3.8 million of his $4.5 million base salary in the form of a bonus. The Steelers might have considered cutting Colon after this draft if not for the restructuring. With all that money the Steelers handed him in February, he's guaranteed to make the team.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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