Devil’s Advocate: Character Counts (Extra)

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Should character be of particularly high concern for the Steelers’ draft prospects this season?

Every once in a while, it seems as though the Steelers cycle through high highly they prioritize the ambiguous ‘character’ factor in their draft picks.

If you look back to the 2012 NFL Draft, there were a lot of players with question marks. From Mike Adams’ multiple issues, included suspensions and failed drug tests, to Alameda Ta’amu’s college DUI, to Chris Rainey’s prior domestic incident—there may have been others I’m not recalling off the top of my head—Pittsburgh seemed to go out on a limb here.

And perhaps it was the negative results that led them to draft a squadron of team captains a year later such as Sean Spence and Vince Williams. Of course, that same draft also produced Le’Veon Bell, which brings us to our current question.

From the outside looking in, one might be inclined to question the discipline and self-policing that goes on in the team’s locker room with players like Bell and Martavis Bryant getting suspended, among other minor incidents here and there.

A significant contingent believes that Mike Tomlin doesn’t have an appropriate level of authority over his players. A constituent of such a group would obviously be inclined to favor the Steelers taking an approach during this draft of highly prioritizing players who are going to help contribute to a strong locker room environment that will keep its players on track.

With the exception of just a small handful of players, however, this doesn’t exactly appear to be a class that is filled with potential troublemakers. No, Joe Mixon is probably not going to be on their board, but how many other players are there in this draft that might seriously derail the locker room culture the team has worked to rebuild?

One can easily argue that the Steelers’ ‘character’ issue players such as Bell and Bryant are now on the right track in their lives and their careers, and that they will serve as a positive example. Character is and will always be a factor, but maybe this team’s current makeup is not in need of any special influence in this regard.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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