Chris Steuber Journal
Posted: May 1, 2012
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Stanford Athletics | Illustration by Chris Steuber
David DeCastro surprisingly fell in the draft, but he fell into the lap of the perfect team.
With the 2012 NFL Draft in the books and draft grades making their rounds, I took a few days to let the draft sink in and evaluate the picks round-by-round. There were a lot of great selections, but obviously some questionable ones that could come back to haunt certain organizations. I’ve decided to pinpoint the best and worst selections in each round.
Identifying one prospect per round was difficult, but my selections were based on value in each round, fit with drafting team and immediate impact.
Best First-Round Pick
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford (Pittsburgh Steelers, 24th overall)
DeCastro falling to the 24th overall pick was hard to believe. He was the 12th rated player on my board, and I thought the worst case scenario for him on draft day was to be selected by the Tennessee Titans at No. 20. But, the rich seem to get richer on draft day, and the Steelers were very fortunate to get a player that fits their style of play perfectly. DeCastro’s rugged style compares favorably to a former Steelers first-round selection, Alan Faneca.
Worst First-Round Pick:
Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State (Chicago Bears, 19th overall)
The Bears desperately needed an upgrade to their pass rush opposite Julius Peppers, but McClellin, who was my 49th rated prospect, was a reach, especially with better, more highly rated prospects on my board, such as: Southern California’s Nick Perry, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus or Marshall’s Vinny Curry. I wasn’t as high on McClellin as others seemed to be leading up to the draft, but I thought he would be a good second-round pick for a 3-4 team in need of a rush linebacker.
McClellin is a hard worker and effort player, and offers versatility to the Bears defense. He could line up at outside linebacker in certain packages, but as a prospect he reminded me of a poor man’s Brooks Reed, who was selected in the second-round of the 2011 draft by the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, I don’t think McClellin will be as effective in a 4-3 defense as he would’ve been in a 3-4.
Best Second-Round Pick:
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama (Baltimore Ravens, 35th overall)
One of my personal favorites in the entire draft and rated 10th on my board, Upshaw landed in the perfect spot with the Ravens and should be an instant impact player. Upshaw has the luxury to learn from the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, which will only make him better on and off the field. A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but Upshaw is my favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Worst Second-Round Pick
Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois (New England Patriots, 48th overall)
This selection still doesn’t register with me. Wilson wasn’t on the radar of most analysts and likely most NFL teams, but as they say, “It only takes one team.” Obviously, the Patriots needed help in their secondary, and with this year’s safety class being weak, scouting reports are crucial. Regardless of how high the Patriots had Wilson on their board, this selection is eerily similar to the Oakland Raiders selection of former Ohio safety Mike Mitchell in the second-round of the 2009 draft.
Best Third-Round Pick
Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson (Cincinnati Bengals, 93rd overall)
As far as value, Thompson stacks up against any of the prospects selected in the third frame. Thompson was rated 44th overall on my board, and for the Bengals to secure him with the 93rd overall pick is a steal. On Twitter, I said the Bengals had the best draft; they got value in every round and set their franchise up well for the future. Thompson and second-round pick Devon Still provide the Bengals with an outstanding, young interior tandem that possess different skill sets, but will complement one another very well.
Worst Third-Round Pick
Brian Anger, P, California (Jacksonville Jaguars, 70th overall)
Field position in the National Football League is crucial, and Anger was the best punter in the draft, but selecting him in the third-round is ridiculous, especially when the Jaguars had other needs to address.
Best Fourth-Round Pick
Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska (Houston Texans, 126th overall)
If it weren’t for a torn pectoral muscle, Crick would’ve been a late first, early second-round pick. During his career at Nebraska, Crick was extremely productive and consistent. The misnomer is that Crick benefited from playing next Ndamukong Suh; yes, he benefited from Suh during his sophomore season, but as a junior in 2010 - when Suh was in his rookie year with the Detroit Lions - Crick posted nearly identical numbers to what he recorded when he played next to Suh.
Crick is an outstanding, hard-nosed football player, and being drafted by the Texans is an ideal situation. He’ll have an opportunity to play on a line with J.J. Watt and a defense that is ready to take the next step in being one of the best in the NFL.
Worst Fourth-Round Pick
There were a handful of questionable selections in the fourth-round: Delaware center Gino Gradkowski to the Ravens (98th overall), Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson to the Giants (127th overall), South Carolina State safety Christian Thompson to the Ravens (130th overall), Maine safety Jerron McMillan to the Packers (133rd overall) and Eastern Washington safety Matt Johnson to the Cowboys (135th overall), but overall nothing stood out as being completely outrageous.
Best Fifth-Round Pick
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida (Pittsburgh Steelers, 159th overall)
When observing the selections from the fifth-round, there were a number of names that stood out to me as being great value; Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders to the Bills (144th overall), Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu to the Dolphins (155th overall), North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning to the Packers (163rd overall), California wide receiver Marvin Jones to the Bengals (166th overall), Boise State free safety George Iloka to the Bengals (167th overall) and Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner to the Raiders (168th overall). But, the name that has a chance to be the biggest difference maker is former Florida running back Chris Rainey.
Rainey provides the Steelers with an instant playmaker, whether it’s on offense or special teams. He’s a dynamic offensive weapon, who possesses Darren Sproles-like ability. Newly minted offensive coordinator Todd Haley will have fun finding ways to utilize Rainey on offense and exploiting the weaknesses of the opposition. Rainey is electric in space and will eventually become a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger in check down situations.
Worst Fifth-Round Pick
As the draft progresses, teams rely on scouts and the reports they have on prospects. It’s hard to question selections from the 5th – 7th round, because it’s based on many factors and who scouts project to compete for a potential roster spot. But, a few names stood out to me as surprise fifth-round picks: Purdue offensive tackle Dennis Kelly to the Eagles (153rd overall), Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock to the Texans (161st overall) and Samford safety Corey White to the Saints (162nd overall).
Best Sixth-Round Pick
Billy Winn, DL, Boise State (Cleveland Browns, 205th overall)
It was shocking to see Winn fall this far in the draft. He was rated 71st overall on my board, and I thought he would be a great fit for a 3-4 team as a late second, early third round pick. There were some concerns about his motor and work ethic during the draft process, but he has the skill set to be a solid front-four defender, and in Cleveland he provides depth at defensive tackle.
Worst Sixth-Round Pick
There are no bad sixth-round selections. At this point, teams are taking a chance on players they like or players they want to secure before they are available as undrafted free agents to every team in the NFL.
Best Seventh-Round Pick
Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada (Miami Dolphins, 227th overall)
There were a couple of players I considered as the best seventh-round pick, Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and Matthews. In the end, I went with the highest rated player on my board, which was Matthews; I pulled Dennard from my Top 100 due to his most recent off-the-field issue. But, if Dennard matures, and there is a good chance he will being with the Patriots, he could be a top-five steal in the draft.
Matthews, who was rated 99th on my board, isn’t very creative in space, but he’s a tough player, who gives great effort and uses his frame and hands to his advantage. He has a good opportunity to make the Dolphins roster and contribute this season.
Worst Seventh-Round Pick
There are no bad seventh-round selections. At this point, teams are taking a chance on players they like or players they want to secure before they are available as undrafted free agents to every team in the NFL.
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Chris Steuber has covered the NFL and NFL Draft for multiple media outlets over the last decade, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including: The Colin Cowherd Show, NFL Network's Path to the Draft and Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet (Philadelphia)... full biography