The 2018 NFL Draft is drawing near, which seems to be a fitting time to take a look back at the rookie seasons of the Pittsburgh Steelers class from the 2017 NFL Draft. People start talking about the quality of a draft class before said class is even completed, of course, but now we have a year of data to work form.
Over the course of the next several days, I will be providing an overview of the team’s rookies, as well as an evaluation of each rookie that the Steelers drafted, while also noting any undrafted free agents that were able to stick around. This will not include the likes of Mike Hilton and Kameron Canaday because they were first-year players, not rookies.
The Steelers went into the 2017 NFL Draft with eight selections, including one in each round at their natural selections, as well as an additional pick in the third round as compensation for the net losses that they were dealt in free agency from the 2016 offseason.
Continuing a recent trend, the class has proven to be top-heavy in terms of early results, though there are still opportunities for those selected by them in the later rounds of the draft to develop into bigger contributors as well.
Player: Keion Adams
Draft Status: 7th round (248th overall)
A lot of people have a lot of good feelings about the potential of second-year outside linebacker Keion Adams, who was the bookmark selection to the Steelers’ 2017 NFL Draft class that began with fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt in the first round.
While Watt went on to start 15 of 15 games played plus the preseason, recording seven sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal, Adams suffered a shoulder injury in training camp that left him on injured reserve for the entire year.
It’s quite likely that had that not been on the case he would have been headed for the practice squad, of course, behind Watt, Bud Dupree, Antony Chickillo, Arthur Moats, and James Harrison, all of whom were on the 53-man roster.
The Western Michigan product only dressed for one preseason game, though I cannot recall if he even got into the game, but he did not record any statistics. In spite of the lack of game opportunities for evaluation, he intrigued onlookers during his brief work in pads.
Adams and Watt spent a lot of time working together both on the field and in the classroom during the spring and summer as a pair of pass-rushers entering the league together, and I hope that that is a relationship that has continued.
Though he was on injured reserve, he still remained visibly engaged with the team, occasionally able to be seen interacting with other players on the sidelines. The Steelers certainly hope that he can offer something, even on special teams, especially after parting with Harrison and with the potential of moving on from Moats as well, who happened to be Lance Zierlein’s NFL comparison for him.