Mike Adams' positive drug test at the combine was reported far and wide before the draft. That's the kind of pre-draft mistake that will take a player completely off of a team's draft board. That's exactly what happened to Adams on the Steelers' list of players they were considering... or at least that's what they told him.
CBS Sports reports that GM Kevin Colbert said he told Adams he was off of their board when he met with them face-to-face after he became aware of the test result. Scout.com Steelers beat writer Jim Wexell reports that the team gave him a "list of demands", and if met, they might reconsider drafting him.
Adams sought out the meeting because he had wanted to be a Pittsburgh Steeler since he was a small child:
“When I was a four-year-old, my entire bedroom was all Pittsburgh Steelers’ stuff. I’ve been in love with this organization since I started watching football. It was important for me to reach out to them because this is something I definitely wanted to be a part of.”
Obviously, Adams met the demands, and the fact that he didn't take such measures to implore other teams to draft him probably led him falling to the Steelers' pick in the late second round. AP sportswriter Will Graves passes on that Steelers OL coach Sean Kugler said Adams had a first-round grade from the team before the character concerns arose. Wexell believes not every team gave Adams that high a mark because of questions about his ability to handle speed rushers and that positive drug test, especially as it related to his love of the game. Adams had this to say:
“If you talked to any of my coaches or teammates, I don’t think you can doubt my passion for the game. This is what I love to do. This is what I’m passionate about. And this is the only place where I can really see myself being.”
Like Wexell, I believe the second chance the Steelers have given Adams will pay off. After seeing his reputation publicly assailed (rightfully) after the test result became public, he had to show contrition, and the Steelers gave him specific steps he could take to prove to them that he was indeed sorry for his mistake.
Every pick in the draft is a leap of faith by the team exercising the pick. They can never know for certain how the player will adjust to life in the pros. In the Steelers' case with Adams, they took a bigger leap than most teams did, but they also got more assurances than most teams get.
Adams proved he was willing to jump through hoops just to be considered during the draft. Now that the team followed through and selected him, their belief in Adams should pay dividends for years to come, and send a clear message to any player that slips up—if you come to us and show you are sincerely sorry and want to change, you can be redeemed in our eyes.