With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: OT Mike Adams
Stock Value: Down
The Steelers excitedly pounced on the opportunity to draft tall Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, believing that they had the most intimate knowledge about his off-field issues and that they had been effectively satisfied that they would not have an impact on his professional career.
As it would turn out, it has been his on-field issues that have had the greatest impact on his professional career after repeatedly failing to win a starting job. Adams was forced into the starting lineup for several games at right tackle in his rookie season, and that remains his best overall play even if he showed every issue that he has embodied since, particularly in pass protection.
With the team moving on from Max Starks the following year, Adams entered the starting lineup at left tackle, but struggled so much that he was benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum, who was nearly Mr. Irrelevant in Adams’ draft class.
Adams since started five games, one at left tackle and four at right, due to injuries, but in most instances the Steelers were able to succeed in spite of him. He has primarily worked as a tackle-eligible tight end. He missed all of last season after undergoing back surgery just before training camp, which prompted his contract to toll.
But the team seems almost to be functioning as though he is a non-entity. Returning Alejandro Villanueva, who started 12 games last year including the playoffs, the Steelers proceeded to sign veteran offensive tackle Ryan Harris, who started 16 games last year for the Broncos, and who is expected to compete for the starting job at left tackle.
Yesterday, the team drafted Gerald Hawkins out of LSU, a tackle with experience on both sides of the line who declared early and still had room to grow in his game. As a fourth-round pick, it’s likely that he is rostered virtually no matter how he might perform during training camp.
With Marcus Gilbert over at right tackle, the Steelers already have four tackles they are likely to carry into the season with Villanueva, Harris, and Hawkins filling in the depth chart. In spite of his past pedigree and physical tools, Adams has to be seen as on the outside looking in for a team that hasn’t hesitated to carry only three true tackles recently. He will have to play his heart out and perhaps even beat out Harris or Villanueva to make the roster this year.