The Big Three - Scouting Reports on Decastro, Adams, & Ta'amu
The 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers draft class will likely be evaluated on how well their three prize picks ultimately pan out. As they entered the draft with four huge needs (OT, OG, ILB, NT) they lucked out and had a player ranked in the top 2 at their position on their big board fall to them in the draft. Here is a closer look at these "Big 3" picks who weigh in at a combined 980+ pounds. This was truely a meat and potatoes draft class where the trenches were addressed early and often.
1st round pick - David Decastro Profile
David Decastro - OG - Stanford
A redshirt Junior who just turned 22 in January, Decastro started every game for Stanford at RG over the past three years. In each of the past two seasons he was named 1st team All PAC-12. Decastro allowed just one sack in those starts (to UCLA's Brian Price as a Freshman) and anchored a rushing attack that averaged over 210 yards per game during his tenure. The vast majority of that was either behind Decastro at RG, or with him pulling left as a lead blocker. Decastro played in Stanford's Pro Style system where he was asked to do everything he will be required to do with the Steelers, which makes him plug and play ready. In addition to his impressive resume, Decastro was a top performer at the combine in agility drills (3 cone and shuttle) as well as bench press reps for Offensive Guards. I personally viewed six Stanford games this past season, keying in on Decastro in each game. Below is a scouting report I wrote on him in early October after having watched a few Stanford games.
"The big Stanford guard carries his weight well and is extremely agile and mobile for a Right Guard. He's very aggressive and plays up to the whistle, but is smart and controlled enough not to carry on beyond the play and draw penalties. Decastro has an excellent base, powerful hands, and good power in the run game. As a pulling guard he's one of the most athletic and mobile players I've seen at the second level in a decade, very reminiscent of Alan Faneca or Maurkice Pouncey when on the move. A well built 312 pounds, he has both good short area quickness and open field mobility. Decastro is also a very heady player who recognizes and picks up stunts and blitzes with ease. In the games viewed he was never penalized, never allowed a sack, and was dominant in the run game. On more than one occasion he passed off his man as he recognized a blitz and made the second block to buy Andrew Luck enough time to get the pass off. Also in the passing game Decastro displayed excellent feet as he slides and mirrors exceptionally well and is seldom caught reaching or lunging. Perhaps his best asset is that once he engages a defender, it's over. When Decastro locks on, defenders rarely get off his blocks and he holds those blocks through the whistle time and time again. A fierce finisher that will drive the defender until they are either on the ground or until the whistle blows. Consistent consistency in all areas of his game with zero notable holes.
Compares to: Logan Mankins with Alan Faneca's mobility & ability in space
Final Word: Smart, mobile, good in-line power blocker. Elite pulling guard, excels out in space. Athletic, good pass protection sets, slides and mirrors with perfection. Decastro has it all and can play either LG or RG in the NFL. Maybe The best pure Guard prospect to come out in the last half dozen years. Top 25 pick.
Some other scouting reports and quotes on Decastro:
"In terms of consistent dominance, there hasn't been an offensive or defensive lineman I've graded higher this season than David Decastro" - Rob Rang CBS Draftscout.com
DeCastro is fabulous at pulling and setting the edge. He can drive block and ride defenders around the field. DeCastro is quick and gets upfield to hit blocks on linebackers. He also is very effective on screen plays. He is a pure road-grader on the ground. In pass protection, DeCastro slides well. Bull rushes are completely ineffective as he has a strong base and anchors with ease. With his quickness and athleticism to fire back, quick three-technique pass-rushers struggle against DeCastro. DeCastro only had a few reps this year against Washington's massive defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, but DeCastro won all of the reps. Stanford ran for 446 yards in the game. - Walter Cherepinsky
"DeCastro is considered one of the best guard prospects in years" - Mel Kiper
"He's clearly the top guard in the class. I think with DeCastro, when you get him, you're going to plug him in Day One, and he's going to be your starting guard." - Mike Mayock
"The best offensive line prospect I've evaluated since Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. … He's got the skill set to become one of the league's best guards early in his career." Pouncey was a rookie Pro Bowler." - Wes Bunting, director of college scouting for National Football Post,
"Never mind whether DeCastro might be a tackle. "You're making a mistake if you try to make him something he's not rather than let him do what he does best and become a Pro Bowl offensive guard," Todd McShay ESPN draft analyst
Mike Adams -OT - Ohio State
The story of how Mike Adams ended up a Steeler may go down as one of the greatest and strangest draft stories in franchise history. As most know, Mike Adams flunked a drug test at the combine, and this was after he was suspended half the year for improper benefits from tattoo-gate. Adams was one of 60 prospects to have face to face meetings with the Steelers at the NFL Combine where he told the team that he does not smoke pot. After this, Adams was told he was off the teams draft board due to the drug test and character concerns. Adams requested another face to face meeting with the team and was given a list of stipulations he had to meet in order to again be considered as a draftable prospect by the team. Adams was later brought in as one of the Steelers 30 official team visits. In addition to requesting the second meeting, Adams and his agents offered to forfeit the first year and a half of his signing bonus to prove to the team he was on the right track, and that he wanted to be a part of the organization. The only team Adams is known to have requested a meeting like this with was the Pittsburgh Steelers. Why would Adams request a meeting with the Steelers, and why did he go to such great lengths to impress this organization you ask? Because Mike Adams is one of us. He is a Steeler-fanatic Yinzer who was born in the area and grew up as a rabid Steelers fan. Adams was a native of Farrell, PA before moving to the Columbus, OH area. Do you know what the Farrell High School mascot is? They are known as the Farrell Steelers, of course. This kid just has the Yinzer gene engrained into him. And for a kid with motivation issues, what better to light a fire under your ass than to play for your favorite team?
As far as Adams as a prospect, I had him ranked as the 2nd best LT in the class and the 30th best player in the entire draft even with the failed pot test. At 6'7 323 pounds, Big Mike is a mountain of a man who fits the Steelers mold at OT. In addition to his size Adams has long arms and a huge wingspan. His best asset is his quick and nimble feet which are unexpected for a guy of his size. Lighter feet than any Tackle the Steelers have had in a decade or more is what you can expect to see whenever he finally works his way into the starting lineup. Adams tends to play a bit high and that hurts his ability to get leverage in the run game, but his slide and mirror in pass protection can be elite when he is on. Ideally he is suited to play LT in his NFL career, and I expect that is where he'll ultimately end up. Adams compares to Marvel Smith in some ways, and not just the weed habit. He is similarly sized and capable of playing either LT or RT at a high level, but Adams' pass blocking ability is superior, while his run blocking may be considered as a notch below. Over the past two years Adams most impressive games came against JJ Watt of Wisconsin and Whitney Mercilus of Illinois. Both were elite B1G 10 edge rushers, and Adams dominated them both.
With Adams, it is all going to be all about motivation and character. He can play passive and lazy at times. Falling to a team he coveted in the Steelers is the perfect situation for Adams. If they can keep him motivated, they'll have one of the better LT's in the league. If not, this pick will go up in smoke like the Santonio Holmes one did.
Senior Bowl Scouting Report:: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State - Adams was far and away the most impressive OT all week. At 6-7, 323 pound Adams showed impressive quickness out of his stance and lateral movement in pass protection throughout the week. He easily held speed rushers at bay in both the game and practices. Adams was beat once on a bullrush by Courtney Upshaw, but it was a bit of a coverage sack and the QB rolled into the oncoming rusher. Adams doesn't always get great leverage as a run blocker due to his height, but he has all the tools to be a franchise LT for some team. - SteelPerch of SteelerFury.com
Alameda Ta'amu - NT - Washington (6'3 335)
Ta'amu was the best player on the Huskies D-line over the past 3 seasons where he was used in a variety of roles including 3 technique and 2 gap nose tackle. He has had some issues controlling his weight and was reportedly up to 390 pounds before dedicating himself to controlling his diet and focusing more on the weight room. This paid off as he was able to get his weight down into the 330 pound range by the Holiday Bowl and he put up an impressive 35 bench reps at the scouting combine. For as big as Ta'amu is, he moves extremely well invoking comparisons to Vince Wilfork or Haloti Ngata. In games viewed this season Ta'amu was very active pushing the pocket and penetrating upfield, but the talent on the Washington defense around him was so poor his efforts often went unrewarded. Taamu's best asset is his anchor strength in the run in this game which combined with his mobility provides him the opportunity to be a rare 3 down player in the NFL at the NT position. As a pass rusher Ta'amu can collapse a pocket and shoot upfield to hurry the QB, but doesn't quite have the athleticism to track down the QB for sacks before they can throw the ball away. Another tool in his toolbox is the ability to play a large number of snaps without appearing to be winded, even at 345 pounds.
Compares to: Vince Wilfork, massive plugger with good athleticism for the position
Senior Bowl Scouting Report:
Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington - Ta'amu was a bear in drills as he bull-rushed O-linemen backwards all week. In the game he displayed good ability to penetrate and shoot the gaps as he made a few plays in the backfield. Ta'amu absolutely abused LSU Guard Will Blackwell in the game. The assumption is that Ta'amu will be drafted to play 3-4 NT rather than a 4-3 defensive tackle. As such he'll be required to play more 2 gap and occupy blockers as opposed to
shooting the gaps as he did at Washington. His body type, size, and athleticism says he should be a good fit for this role, but how much coaching and time will it take to make that transition? Ta'amu should grade out a bit lower than Phil Taylor did last year and end up somewhere in round 2.