Alameda Ta’amu

Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers take the smart, patient approach to the draft almost every year and it is one of the key reasons why they are perennial contenders. While other teams reach to fill needs, the Steelers sit back and wait for someone to fall into their lap.

This year was no different as the Steelers landed David DeCastro, who will step into an immediate starting role and should be a key piece to their offensive line for the next decade.

Mike Adams was a calculated risk in the 2nd round. He’s had a number of off-field issues, including a failed drug test at the combine, and on the field often looks lazy and disinterested. But the Steelers did their homework on Adams and apparently feel comfortable bringing him aboard. He perfectly fits the mold of the type of lineman they like, so if they can keep him motivated, he’ll be a steal.

I was surprised by the selection of Sean Spence because I’m not sure how he fits into the scheme in Pittsburgh. He’s sort of a strong safety/linebacker ‘tweener, which made him an ideal fit at weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense. But in Pittsburgh he’ll be forced to play inside. I have a hard time envisioning him as anything more than a special teams guy in Pittsburgh.

Alameda Ta’amu is another prospect who perfectly fits the Steelers scheme, but also comes with a lot of questions. Ta’amu is an elite talent, but can’t stay in football shape. He’s battled weight issues since high school and it’s tough to break those habits once you’ve reached this level.

Chris Rainey is an explosive offensive weapon. It will be interesting to see how the Steelers use him because they really haven’t had a player with his skill set in the Roethlisberger era.

Toney Clemons has the size the Steelers need at receiver, but he’s a longshot to make the final roster cuts.

I really like David Paulson but he’ll have a tough time finding a job in Pittsburgh. He’s a good fit for their offensive scheme, but Heath Miller and Leonard Pope already have two roster spots locked up. He’ll compete with Weslye Saunders for a job, but there’s no guarantee that either makes the final cuts.

Terrence Frederick will compete for a backup job with Cortez Allen, Walter McFadden and others.

Kelvin Beachum is a versatile lineman, which could help him earn one of the final spots on the offensive line. His upside may be limited, but he could carve out a career as a backup.

Overall, this was a fairly strong draft for the Steelers. They only landed one guy who projects as a guaranteed future starter (DeCastro), but Adams and Ta’amu have the upside to potentially develop into steals down the road.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Steelers 1 Comment

Steelers uncharacteristically gambling in draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers typically take a conservative approach to the draft, which has served them very well in years past. But they’re breaking the mold this year, and targeting players with a ton of upside who have fallen to due some off-field concerns.

The first gamble was with Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, who failed multiple drug tests in college and failed another test at the combine. On top of the off-field concerns, Adams also shows inconsistent effort on the field. He has the size to dominate, but often does just enough to get by.

In the 4th round, the Steelers also gambled on Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. While Ta’amu does not come with any major character concerns, he is still a risk due to issues with his weight. Ta’amu has played at 400 pounds at various points in his career and has never demonstrated the ability to keep his weight under control. In general, when guys can’t stay in shape in college they typically don’t turn things around once they’re collecting an NFL paycheck.

The Steelers are definitely in position to take these risks, but it is interesting that it seems to stray from their typical draft strategy.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Steelers 3 Comments

Alameda Ta’amu scouting report

Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington #74
Ht: 6’3″

Wt: 341

 
Strengths:
Prototypical build for a nose tackle; a true space eater. Strong bull rusher who requires the attention of multiple offensive linemen. Flashes the ability to explode off the snap. Surprising initial quickness.
Weaknesses:
Weight has been an issue throughout career; reportedly tipped the scales just shy of 400 pounds at times and consistently played around 350-360. Short and stumpy build; not a great athlete. Inconsistent explosion off the snap; possibly a conditioning issue. Slowed down too easily if he doesn’t get a good jump off the snap. Quickness is solid in short bursts, but he fails to sustain his activity for more than a moment or two. Doesn’t always play with good leverage, something which should come naturally given his relatively modest height. Takes up space, but does little else on most plays. Lacks the athleticism, speed and stamina to make plays in pursuit. Not a threat to consistently pressure the quarterback.
Comments:
Ta’amu has one thing you can’t coach: pure size. And that quality will likely land him a spot somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round. However, his inconsistent play – very likely a result of poor conditioning – raises a red flag. As of right now, he is not capable of being effective for 30+ snaps and will wear down as the game progresses. However, in a part-time role he can be a dangerous weapon. The best situation for Ta’amu would be to land in a system where he can play in a rotation which will limit his snaps. When fresh, he’s tough to block, and could be an impact player coming off the bench in key situations.
Videos:
2011 vs Utah 
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off

How Colts defensive switch impacts draft

The Indianapolis Colts are one of the few teams that haven’t at least tinkered with the 3-4 defense in recent years. But that’s about to change.

The hiring of Chuck Pagano from the Ravens means the Colts defensive philosophy will change, as Pagano has already stated he is bringing Baltimore’s hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense with him.

While this does mean changes will be coming, it might not be as drastic a change as you may assume. For starters, over the past few years the Ravens have actually lined up in a base 4-3 defense more often than their 3-4. Assuming Pagano sticks with this strategy, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (assuming he’s re-signed) won’t need to make significant adjustments.

What the Colts do need, however, is a true nose tackle for those instances where they line up in a standard 3-4. Antonio Johnson could probably fill that role if absolutely necessary, but he isn’t a true space-eater like Pagano had in Baltimore with Terrence Cody

Obviously the Colts won’t be addressing this need in the 1st round, but there are a few options for them in round two or three:

1. Dontai Poe, Memphis – As the consensus top-rated nose tackle, there’s a decent chance Poe comes off the board in the 1st round. If he does slide to the 2nd round, however, he should be high on the Colts draft board.

2. Josh Chapman, Alabama – Chapman would be a slight reach at the top of round two, but would be a nice fit in Indianapolis. He has experience in the 3-4 defense at Alabama, which would make his transition to the NFL fairly easy.

3. Alameda Ta’amu, Washington – Ta’amu is more likely to be an option for the Colts in the 3rd round. He’s limited athletically, and more of a true space-eater who won’t be a three-down lineman at the next level.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Colts Comments Off

All-Overrated “Team”

Here is my pre-Senior Bowl all-overrated “team.” It’s not exactly a full team because certain positions don’t have a truly overrated prospect… yet. Depending on the media’s reaction to the Senior Bowl and/or Combine, players could drop off the list, or earn their way onto the roster in the coming months.

QB Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M
Every year a quarterback or two see their stock inflated due to team needs. Tannehill is this year’s victim.
RB LaMichael James Oregon
James is an impressive athlete with speed to burn, but he isn’t an every-down back.
RB Chris Rainey Florida
Much like James, Rainey is heralded for his speed, but he will be limited to special teams duty in the NFL.
WR Alshon Jeffery South Carolina
There’s no denying Jeffery’s raw ability, but his inconsistency raises a big red flag.
WR Nick Toon Wisconsin
Toon was a productive college receiver who benefitted from Russell Wilson’s prescence in 2011. He’s a 3rd or 4th option in the NFL at best.
TE Coby Fleener Stanford
Fleener is my top rated tight end, but that’s exactly why he’s being overrated. He’s just the best of a mediocre class.
OT Jonathan Martin Stanford
Martin will be a fine pro, but not at left tackle. Anyone who falls for the hype will be moving him to the right side, or to guard, within three years.
OT Mike Adams Ohio State
Adams certainly looks the part, but he’s terribly soft and not especially quickon his feet.
DE Quinton Coples North Carolina
You can put together a highlight real that makes Coples look like a top-five pick… but you can’t find a single game where he shows it from start to finish.
DE Jack Crawford Penn State
Crawford never lived up to expectations at Penn State despite his impressive athleticism.
DT Alameda Ta’amu Washington
Ta’amu has the size to play nose tackle, which boosts his stock significantly, but he may not have the stamina to be a three-down lineman.
LB Zach Brown North Carolina
Brown is an athlete, but he’s undersized and will get pushed around by NFL linemen.
LB Bruce Irvin West Virginia
Irvin flashes elite athleticism at times, but he had to fight for playing time throughout his career due to inconsistent performances.
LB Vontaze Burfict Arizona State
Top-10 talent, undraftable character. Not worth the trouble.
CB Janoris Jenkins North Alabama
See above.
CB Alfonzo Dennard Nebraska
I have a hard time understanding where the 1st-round love for Dennard comes from. He’s a physical corner and his injury prone – a bad combo.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off