It is still very early in the actual football activities portion of the offseason, so it’s really not known whether or not the term ‘longshot’ would be applicable for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie seventh-round draft pick, outside linebacker Keion Adams out of Western Michigan.
Adams joins first-round draft pick T.J. Watt as an edge-rusher duo from their rookie draft class, who are looking to pair with a similar duo that the Steelers picked up in the 2015 NFL Draft with first-rounder Bud Dupree and sixth-rounder Anthony Chickillo.
There is no question over whether or not either Watt or Dupree will be on the roster, but Chickillo is one of the likely candidates—the other being Arthur Moats—against whom Adams will find himself competing during training camp and the preseason for what will most likely be only two roster spots—perhaps even one. And Adams, as a late-round rookie who would have a good chance of getting to the practice squad, would be at a disadvantage from a pragmatist’s point of view.
But he isn’t looking to go anywhere, and he is already embracing both the team and the city as his own, hoping to enrich both of them by cementing his own legacy in the black and gold. “The people are the city”, he told Teresa Varley for the team’s website. “They embrace you whether they know you or not”. And he’s planning on making his name, and his face, a memorable one.
“It’s a city rich in heritage”, he said about the Steel City. “I like that. It shows at the end of the day they aren’t going to change anything and the city know who they are”. The draft may have been “hectic”, waiting into the later stages of the seventh round to get the phone call, but he considers it “a blessing” to end up with the Steelers organization.
“As soon as I stepped into the building you could tell it was a family-oriented culture”, he said. “The energy and passion everyone has for football makes it a wonderful situation to be in. I am beyond excited. It’s hard to put into words”.
He hasn’t exactly gotten to put any of his work down on tape just yet for the Steelers, but for what it’s worth, Dale Lolley came away impressed with what he saw from the rookie during their minicamp for first-year players.
He wrote that “Adams appears to be a natural pass rusher”, noting that he “has quick, active hands and doesn’t waste a lot of movement”. In practices without pads, of course, what you’re going to notice primarily from a pass rusher is his ability to use his hands, so this is a very early positive.
I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I do feel confident in my belief that it is going to be a heated competition to fill out the depth chart at the outside linebacker position this summer. Of course, he’ll also have to prove his worth to Danny Smith on special teams.