STEELERS TAKE RISK IN ADAMS
By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH -- Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams made poor decisions in the past two years that put his college eligibility and NFL prospects in jeopardy.
Adams was part of the scandal with quarterback Terrell Pryor for improper benefits and was suspended the first five games of his senior season with the Buckeyes. Adams also failed a drug test for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February that caused many teams to shy away from him during the draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers weren't among those teams, and they chose the more than 6-foot-7, 323-pound Adams with the 56th overall selection in the second round Friday night. The Steelers also drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, guard David DeCastro from Wisconsin, but this one wasn't a no-brainer like the No. 1 pick.
"These are young people, and young people make mistakes,'' Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "But if they're proactive in trying to correct those mistakes, I think you have to give that consideration, especially with the way that he personally sought us out. We didn't call him.
"He called us, but had he not called us this might not have occurred. We told him point-blank that he was off our board. ... We took into consideration his entire body of work on and off the field, looked at those individual infractions and weighed it all together, and we're comfortable with where we took him.''
Colbert reiterated several times that it certainly was a risk to take a player like Adams with a shady recent past, but he was impressed that the player called the Steelers to ask for a face-to-face meeting with President Art Rooney II, Coach Mike Tomlin and Colbert. So, they brought him to Pittsburgh along with 29 other prospects for an additional meeting in late March.
"We told him that he was off our draft board,'' Colbert said. "But these are the stipulations that you have to accomplish for consideration for us to draft you, which the young man did. He met our criteria and our stipulations, and we are comfortable taking him where we did.
"I don't know if he went to other teams, but he sought us out very quickly. We have a great relationship with his agents, and we worked together with them. (His infractions) are things that you can't forgive, but he sought us out and met the criteria we set for him. So, we're comfortable selecting him, but it's going to be a day-to-day working relationship between all of us.''
Adams, who played scholastically at Dublin-Coffman High School in Ohio, said that he's been a lifelong Steelers fans. So, they were the only NFL team that he sought out for a face-to-face meeting.
"I knew that I screwed up, so it was all about getting back into the good graces (with the NFL teams),'' Adams said. "I sought them out to let them know that it happened and to show my remorse and that I love that organization and that I would do anything to be part of it.
"(And) I went to Farrell Elementary School (Mercer County) when I was six years old, so to say that this was a dream come true would be an understatement. They were the only team that I contacted to meet with, yes, but I have to continue to make the right decisions. And as long as I do that, I'll be OK.''
When Colbert told Adams that he was off the Steelers' draft board, the player said that was difficult to take.
"That's the team that I wanted to go to from Day 1,'' Adams said. "Ever since I started to imagine playing in the NFL, the Steelers are the team that I wanted to be with. ... When I was a four-year-old, my entire bedroom was Pittsburgh Steelers stuff. So, Pittsburgh is where I wanted to be in the NFL.''
Adams wasn't short on confidence, either, saying that he believed he was the best tackles in the draft and wanted to be the best in the NFL as well. Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler wouldn't put that moniker on Adams just yet, but he could envision the player providing immediate depth and eventually challenging for a starting spot.
"We'll see how it goes, but we want to get the best guys in the right spots,'' Kugler said. "Realistically, I don't want moving parts. It's been more of a necessity for us to have guys who are moving parts, but we'd love to have guys at five stable positions and just keep them there. So, we'll get them in the right spots and see where we'll go from there.''
Prior to the draft, the Steelers offensive line probably had Willie Colon at right tackle, and Marcus Gilbert on the left side. Maurkice Pouncey is at center, while Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster are at left and right guard, respectively. But that's not set in stone after O-linemen were taken in the first two draft rounds.
"I'm going to have a few beers tonight and think about it ... again, I just think it's two quality players (who) are going to help us get better as an offensive line,'' Kugler said. "And I promise that we'll get the best five guys in the right positions, but I can't say right now.
"And I'd be lying if I said I did. ... I know that there's been a lot of shuffling on the offensive line, but it's been out of necessity. It's not our plan, so I'd like to get the best five guys out there in stable positions and go from there.''
And the Steelers might not know for a while if the risk outweighed the reward, as far as Adams is concerned.
"It's probably more of a risk than we're usually comfortable with taking, but because the young man was forthcoming, because he took matters (into his own hands) and met our criteria we're comfortable in taking that risk,'' Colbert said. "(But) I'm not convinced, and I won't be convinced that he made it as a player until the day that he retires.''
If that's more than a decade from now, it's likely that the Adams pick would have been worth it.
Notes: The Steelers selected Miami linebacker Sean Spence with their third round selection. Spence who played weakside linebacker in college, will move inside and the learn the Mack behind Lawrence Timmons. Listed at 5-11, 231 lbs, Spence had 106 tackles and 3 sacks in 2011.