With right guard David DeCastro out indefinitely, there will be minimal impact felt from the Steelers' 2012 draft class this season. DeCastro, the team's first-round pick, was the only guaranteed starter from Pittsburgh's most recent draft.
Offensive tackle Mike Adams, the second-round pick, is in the running for the starting left tackle job. But it wasn't an encouraging sign when the Steelers started Max Starks at left tackle Saturday night.
The player from this draft class who has the best chance of changing games is running back Chris Rainey, a fifth-round pick. He's displayed electric speed this preseason, scoring on a 41-yard run and a 57-yard catch.
Inside linebacker Sean Spence (third round) will be a key contributor on special teams and could see time on the starting defense if there is an injury to Lawrence Timmons or Larry Foote. Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (fourth round) has struggled at times and likely will be among the team's inactives every week. Pittsburgh's four seventh-round picks (wide receiver Toney Clemons, tight end David Paulson, cornerback Terrence Frederick and guard Kelvin Beachum) are long shots to make the team.
This isn't to say there won't be a rookie starting for the Steelers this year. Will Johnson, who was out of football last year, is expected to be the Steelers' starting fullback, and Drew Butler, an undrafted rookie, has punted well enough to earn a spot. But the Steelers have to determine whether they'll go with Butler or Jeremy Kapinos, who still hasn't punted this preseason because of issues with his back.