G.M. Andrews/Associated Press
There is a myth that the Steelers don’t take risks on players with character concern. If that was the case, they never would have a drafted guys like Chris Rainey or Mike Adams.
Ask yourself if you think that a guy like Vontaze Burfict or Tyrann Mathieu would help the Steelers right now? The answer to that question is an easy—yes.
For the Steelers, taking a risk on a player with character concerns is worth it late in the draft, especially if you believe that they have gotten past these problems. That is why Jonathan Dowling, a seventh-round prospect according to CBSSports.com, should be considered by the Steelers.
They have a need at safety with Ryan Clark likely finished in the black and gold and Troy Polamalu entering the final year of his deal. Dowling was one of the top high school recruits in the country who went to Florida.
Dowling would eventually get kicked off of the team by Urban Meyer for a violation of team rules. He would wind up at Western Kentucky where he had a productive career. But more importantly, he grew up there.
Dowling told Alan Dell of the Bradenton Herald that going to Western Kentucky gave him a second chance and allowed him to mature:
This was something I have been waiting on for a long time, and it felt great to be out there playing again. Coach [Willie] Taggart has given me a second chance, and it is a blessing. To beat an SEC team feels real good. No disrespect to Kentucky; it would've felt better to beat Alabama, but this was a good milestone. I can't wait to see where I am at when I am playing to my potential.
When I was at Florida, I got ahead of myself. Coming here and playing for Coach Taggart brought me back down to earth. I have the utmost respect for him. We have grown together.
So is he worth the risk? At 6’3” and 198 pounds, Dowling has terrific size and speed—4.42 40-yard dash—to not only compete in the NFL, but excel. He has potential as a coverage safety with nine career interceptions and seven passes defended last year.
A player with so many physical tools is worth the chance late in the draft. He would have strong leadership playing behind a veteran like Polamalu and under such well-respected coaches in Dick LeBeau and Carnell Lake.