2012 NFL Draft: Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2nd- and 3rd-Round Picks

Mike BatistaContributor IApril 28, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Offensive lineman Mike Adams of Ohio State participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Considering the Pittsburgh Steelers' feast-or-famine history of second-round picks, it's not surprising they chose enigmatic Ohio State tackle Mike Adams Friday in the 2012 NFL draft.

The Steelers earned an obvious "A" Thursday with their first-round heist of David DeCastro.

In this space, they get a "C" for drafting Adams.

The Steelers' checkered second-round past includes busts Limas Sweed, Ricardo Colclough and Alonzo Jackson. But it also includes LaMarr Woodley.

The 6'7", 323-pound Adams seems like the kind of prospect who ultimately will swing to one of those extremes. He could fight Marcus Gilbert tooth and nail for the Steelers' starting left tackle spot, probably not this year but maybe next year. Or he could be a washout.

The concern with Adams isn't necessarily about his positive marijuana test or his role in Ohio State's tattoo scandal. There are just as many on-field red flags as there are off-field red flags with Adams.

Here's what Pro Football Weekly says:

"Has battled injuries throughout career. Very spotty play history. Soft-tempered. Came off as very immature and low-burn in the interview process. Questionable mental toughness. Has been pampered and is not wired with a trench mentality. Not passionate about the game. Bench-pressed 225 pounds only 19 times at the Combine and body does not look NFL-conditioned. Too easily distracted and has multiple off-field issues that already have eliminated him from consideration on some NFL draft boards."

That's hard to ignore. It's why he slid from a first-round pick on a lot of draft boards.


But as the story goes, according to dean of Steelers scribes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Adams grew up a Steelers fan and thought he blew his chance to be a Steeler by lying about his positive marijuana test at the NFL Scouting Combine.

So Adams drove from Ohio to Pittsburgh to talk to the Steelers' triumvirate of Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II, who had taken him off their draft board.

Somehow he earned his way back onto the Steelers' board, and it worked out that he went to the Steelers at No. 56.

It almost seems scripted. Adams straightens out his life and ends up fulfilling his dream of being drafted by the Steelers. It could be material for a "Blind Side" sequel.

You'd like to think the Steelers' assessment of Adams wasn't influenced by such melodrama considering their successful draft philosophy over the years.

It's a sound decision for the Steelers to address the tackle position in the second round, and to go offensive line with their first two picks.

They drafted no offensive linemen in the first two rounds between 2003 and 2009. Is it any wonder Ben Roethlisberger has been running for his life?

Since 2010, however, the Steelers have drafted Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, DeCastro and Adams in the first two rounds.

They seem comfortable with Gilbert protecting Roethlisberger's blind side, but hopefully he'll be a better left tackle with Adams pushing him.


Still, if the Steelers wanted a tackle, why did it have to be Adams? They could have made a safer tackle selection in a later round.

The Steelers turned their attention from the O-Line to their graying defense in Round 3, drafting Miami outside linebacker Sean Spence.

At first blush, this was a head-scratcher. The Steelers have more pressing needs at nose tackle, inside linebacker and free safety. They always seem to pick a linebacker when you're hoping they choose someone at another position, like Bruce Davis in the third round of the 2008 draft when Alan Faneca was on his way out and Carl Nicks was still on the board.

On Friday, the Steelers chose Spence with Casey Hampton on his last legs and nose tackles Alameda Ta'amu and Josh Chapman still on the board.

However, this isn't a bad place to start if the Steelers are going to infuse young blood into their defense.

Bouchette says the Steelers consider the 5'11", 231-pound Spence an inside linebacker. He almost looks like a safety and, on tape, seems to be all over the field. He's small for a linebacker but he doesn't seem to care, and neither do the Steelers.

Pro Football Weekly says Spence is a "secure tackler." It might seem obvious to say that's important, but tackling is becoming a lost art in the NFL, and the Steelers' strong tackling is one of the characteristics that sets their defense apart.

However, Pro Football Weekly also questions whether Spence can hold up over a 16-game schedule with his small frame.

Spence won't be expected to start as a rookie. He'll join Jason Worilds, Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester in a corps the Steelers hope can represent their next generation of linebackers.

I'll give this pick a "B." The Steelers' "A" for DeCastro, "C" for Adams and "B" for Spence averages out to a "B" through the first three rounds of the draft.

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