It can be tough for a former first-round draft pick in the NFL that has bounced around to a number of teams in such as out span to try and shake the label of bust, or underperforming high-round draft pick.
That’s what’s followed current Pittsburgh Steelers’ outside linebacker Taco Charlton around the league since he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys and bounced around with the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and now with the Steelers.
Despite the journey of a career, Charlton still believes in himself and his abilities, which has been backed up on the field in stretches, having recorded 11.0 career sacks and also made an impact in the Steelers’ Week 8 win over the Cleveland Browns, helping force a fumble on Jarvis Landry in the fourth quarter.
Now, with Melvin Ingram off to Kansas City via trade and a clear opening behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith for the No. 3 outside linebacker role, Charlton — whom the Steelers showed plenty of interest in ahead of the 2017 NFL draft — still believes he has good football ahead of him and is embracing the opportunity.
“Not really,” Charlton said when asked about the bust label following him around, according to video via Steelers.com. “…I don’t really think when I got here, that was the first one. I feel like I said, I just go out here [believing] I can play good football. That was so long ago, five years now. I already don’t think about it as much. Like I said, I believe I could still go. I played great football and I got a lot of good football ahead of me, so I just go out there with that mindset of trying to prove that. Eventually — hopefully — I show some good things enough where a team likes it and the Steelers like enough to keep me going forward.”
So far, so good for Charlton, who made an impact in a limited capacity in Week 8 against the Browns.
The real test starts now for the former Michigan star, who will hold down the No. 3 outside linebacker role for the time being with Ingram traded to Kansas City. Not one to overthink things, Charlton knows the opportunity that’s in front of him.
“Oh yeah, of course. Yeah, of course I realized that was going to open up a huge spot for me, but also a place where I needed to come in and come through to come through for this team,” Charlton said. “They knocked on my door and it’s something I gotta be there to deliver every week. So, it’s definitely a challenge I’m up for it. I’m happy to take that challenge.”