(An occasional look at potential prospects for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft ... )
Bad news for those hoping the Steelers will draft mammoth Memphis noseman Dontari Poe in the first round of the 2012 draft to become Casey Hampton's successor: Poe absolutely killed it at the combine. By virtue of notching 44 reps on the bench press and a sub-five-seconds 40 time, Poe, who pre-combine was widely expected to be available when Pittsburgh picks at No. 24 in the first round may have shot too far up some draft boards for the Steelers to snag.
However this is a draft that's littered with top-notch defensive lineman, so if Pittsburgh is patient, they can potentially land a diamond in the rough like Alameda Ta'amu, a 6'3" 340-pound potential 3-4 defense nose anchor from Washington.
After steady improvement throughout his career at Washington, Ta'amu seemed poised for big things in his 2011 senior season and he was on track to be a first-round selection. Except ... it didn't quite go that way. His senior season was lackluster, and his draft stock dropped accordingly. However, a standout showing at the Senior Bowl last month and very respectable combine numbers have him back in the conversation.
Here's what's being said about Ta'amu nationally ...
• Wes Bunting of the National Football Post (post combine): "As much as Dontari Poe stole the show Monday, don’t sleep on Washington DT Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu at 348-pounds also posted an impressive time in the 5.3 range and showcased some natural get off burst for his size. He has a tendency to play a bit upright at times and doesn’t have the upside of Poe. However, I think he’s a much safer prospect if you’re looking for a guy to anchor in inside of a 34 front."
• Tony Pauline, Sports Illustrated (post-Senior Bowl): "If scouts were hoping to be wowed by Ta'amu, all they need to due is watch the Senior Bowl game film.The big defensive tackle was dominant every time he lined up and was a constant nuisance for opponents. He collapsed the pocket on several occasions, overpowering opponents to make plays behind the line of scrimmage or force the action. His quarterback pressure at the end of the first half ended what looked to be a potential scoring drive for the South. In the second half the South was forced to double team Ta'amu in the attempt to slow him down."
• NFL.com: "Strengths ... Ta'amu is a powerful and forceful player against the run who can get off the ball on the snap and into a lineman's face quickly. He is good to hold two blockers to create lanes for his linebackers ... Weaknesses ... Ta'amu is a slow-mover who is not involved in terms of rushing the passer or having any productivity to plays away from him ...
• Mocking the Draft: Compares him to Jacksonville's Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton.
• NFP Scouting Report: " ... This is the kind of guy who has the ability to anchor the middle of an NFL defense in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front. Needs to do a better job finding the football, but overall he looks like a starter who you eventually will be able to win with in the NFL."
• Game film of Ta'amu from last season's Washington @ Utah game: