Prediction: even though they may have done it in a different year, the Pittsburgh Steelers will shy away from players with question marks in this draft, including the first round.
And yet the Steelers have brought in two first-round potential draft picks for pre-draft visits, both of whom have said question marks, and both of whom are at need positions on defense, namely outside linebacker and cornerback.
Cornerback Marcus Peters is a talented player—there are some who believe that he is the most talented cornerback in the draft, even if he is not the best physically in any specific category—but there are legitimate concerns, obviously, about the way that he handled himself last year, getting himself kicked off the team.
While reports of him choking a coach may ultimately be unfounded, he has had verbal confrontations with his coaching staff in college, and acknowledged himself that he had difficulty his final year handling the coaching change that led to his altercations.
I find it interesting that, while he may have ultimately reconciled with the school, who allowed him to attend and work out at their Pro Day, when his former head coach spoke about some of his former players who were heading into the draft, he did not mention Peters, even though he may be the most talented of the group.
What’s more, while he may have seemed to have said all the right things, generally, on paper during the draft process, some of his answers certainly seemed coached, and he didn’t come off as well as many hoped that he would.
As for outside linebacker prospect Randy Gregory, he acknowledged that he failed a drug test at the Combine in February, but more concerning was his admission to having difficulty in abstaining from using drugs even as he headed into the draft process, knowing that he would be scrutinized.
Of course, the Steelers have been down this path before, and took a short with Mike Adams. One can debate whether or not he has been on the straight and narrow off the field since then, even if he has clearly been a disappointment on it.
During the summer of his second season with the team, during which he was expected to take over the key left tackle position, Adams was out late at night in an unpleasant neighborhood, and ended up getting involved in an altercation that left him with a knife wound. There are some who question exactly what role he played leading up to that incident.
Last season, of course, the Steelers had their top two running backs arrested for smoking marijuana in a car prior to a preseason game. They will be paying for it in 2015 as Le’Veon Bell serves a three-game suspension. Since then, they have been selective about who they add to their team, and you certainly see a profile of team-first, high-character players when you look at the additions of, for example, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Will Allen, and of course DeAngelo Williams.
While it may be tempting if one or both of those two players are on the board at 22, I have a feeling that the draft board would have to break really poorly outside of Peters and Gregory in order for the Steelers to be comfortable pulling the trigger on taking one of them. They are not typically the type of organization that likes question marks with their first pick, and their recent issues will make them even more gun shy.