PITTSBURGH – The Steelers gambled with their second round draft choice by taking Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams.
They are hoping it is a gamble on greatness.
Physically, there is nothing wrong with Adams. At 6-7 and weighing 323 pounds, he was a key starter along the Buckeyes offensive line.
Character issues kept Adams out of the first round and pushed him deep into the second round. He tested positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and lied about it to several teams, including the Steelers.
Adams was off the Steelers' draft board until he requested a second meeting with team officials.
“He called us and wanted to meet with us,” general manager Kevin Colbert said after drafting Adams with the 56th overall pick in the draft.
Adams met with Colbert, team president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin.
“When Mike came in, we told him that he was off our draft board,” Colbert said. “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, he met our stipulations and we were comfortable in taking him where we took him.”
Colbert did not reveal what criteria Adams had to meet. In fact, he characterized it more as an ongoing test Adams will have to pass day after day after day.
Colbert was asked which was the more grievous offense, failing a drug test or lying about it.
“I think with either one, you would say those are usually offenses that we're not going to forgive, but in this man's case, he sought us out, he met the criteria we provided for him and now we are comfortable with selecting him,” Colbert said. “But it's going to be a day-to-day working relationship between all of us.”
Colbert was cautious to use the word “comfortable” in describing the team's decision to draft Adams where it did. He was asked what Adams did to convince him that he was worthy of being drafted.
“I am not convinced,” Colbert said. “I won't be convinced. I am comfortable because of his actions. I won't be convinced that he made it as a player until the day he retires.”
Adams owned up to his mistakes in a phone interview. He said he sought out the Steelers only for a second interview.
“I was trying to get back in their good graces,” Adams said. “I met with them to show my remorse. They are the only team I contacted. They are the team I wanted to play for from Day 1.”
He explained that he was born in Farrell and lived there until he was 12 years old, when he moved to Dublin, Ohio. He attended Dublin-Coffman High School before going to Ohio State. While he was in Columbus, he also was involved in the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that cost former coach Jim Tressel his job and send Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor to the NFL a year ahead of schedule. Adams served a five-game suspension and started the last seven games for the Buckeyes.
When all was said and done, Adams was off the draft board of the only team he truly wanted to play for and we did what he had to do to get back in their good graces.
“Every pick is a risk, no question about it,” Colbert said. “With this being public information and him making it that type of situation, there is probably more of a risk than we are usually comfortable taking. Because he was forthcoming and met our criteria, we are comfortable with taking the risk.
“These are young people. Young people make mistakes. If you are proactive in trying to correct those mistakes, I think you have to give that consideration, especially the way he personally sought us out. We didn't call him, he called us. Had he not called us, this may not have occurred.”