Blast from the Past: Second Round Part 2
There was so much to say about 2010 pick Jason Worilds that I left the picks for 2011, 12, and 13 for later posts. I’m going to cover 2011 and 2012 in this post, since the Steelers went for the same position two years in a row.
2011’s pick was OT Marcus Gilbert. Out of curiosity I looked up the pick for 2011 on the Behind the Steel Curtain community mock draft. Here’s what editor Michael Bean said about their pick:
Johnny Patrick CB, Louisville
This pick will probably come down to the highest rated CB with OG Marcus Cannon no longer available. Some may favor Brandon Burton over Johnny Patrick but while he may have the size Burton is a little inconsistent and Patrick is the better pure cover CB.
Surprise! No cornerback for yinz… Since my curiosity knows few bounds, at least if it can be satisfied without too much effort, I looked up Patrick to see where he went and how he has done. As it turns out, Patrick was drafted by the Saints. He has five starts total in his NFL career, four of them with San Diego, who picked him up after the Saints cut him in 2013. San Diego cut him after a year and the Jets picked him up, but cut him at the end of training camp. He is currently on the roster of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a name which seems to recur with great frequency when I look up guys.
So basically it would seem the Steelers did better than a group of fans, which is what one would hope, but you never know.
Of course, many of the fans didn’t view it this way, despite Gilbert starting most of his rookie season in place of the injured Willie Colon and winning the Steelers’ Rookie of the Year. But it did seem as if he was either injured or injuring his teammates. In 2012 he missed most of the season after sustaining an ankle injury in Game 6, and while I can’t seem to call up the particulars, there were at least two incidents of him injuring a teammate by falling on them.
But all of this is in the past, and last season in particular Gilbert began to be noticed for his stellar work at right tackle. I think it is difficult in hindsight to view this end-of-the-second-round pick as anything other than a success, despite the thundering indifference to the pick at the time (except, presumably, from those who wanted a corner in the second round.) In his post-draft assessment article Michael Bean wrote the following:
Biggest ‘Boom/Bust’ Pick: Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
I’m still formulating my opinions and assessments of Gilbert, a multi-year starter at various positions along the offensive line at Florida. Jim Wexell and several of the folks at Pro Football Weekly aren’t impressed by Gilbert — the knock on him is he’s soft in their eyes. Others are quite high on Gilbert’s potential. So I’m not sure. But for a second rounder, Gilbert could either develop into a long-term starter or he could find himself trying to make a different team after a year or two in Pittsburgh. Too early to tell obviously, but seems like everything is in play when trying to assess his future with the Steelers.
There is another interesting aspect to this 20-20 hindsight look at the draft. OG Marcus Cannon was actually available when the Steelers took Gilbert—in fact, he wasn’t drafted until the fifth round, by the Patriots. He was diagnosed with non-Hodkin lymphoma after the combine because of some irregularities in the medical exam given at the combine, and his draft stock fell precipitously as a result.
Cannon is still on the Patriots’ roster, but as a tackle—they converted him to right tackle fairly early on. However, if Pro Football Focus’ evaluation is to be believed, Gilbert is the better tackle, by a good bit, although I suppose you could say Cannon was the better bargain. (He also, at 358 pounds, wouldn’t have fit with the athletic offensive line we know in retrospect the Steelers were in the process of developing.)
2012 saw the Steelers take another tackle with their second round pick, one which was much more controversial. The Steelers seemingly broke character, if you will, to take OT Mike Adams in the second round.
Adams was an intriguing prospect but came with a lot of red flags, some noted in his NFL draft profile:
Adams has flashed talent at left tackle for the Buckeyes, not allowing many sacks when actually on the field. Suspensions for violating team rules and his part in Ohio State’s “Tattoo Five” scandal, as well as various injuries, have kept him on the sideline too often during his career.
And then he did the ultimate stupid thing—he tested positive for marijuana at the combine. I’ve always maintained that if you are dumb enough to fail a drug test you know full well is coming, you lack self-control and/or intelligence. Neither a lack of self-control or a lack of intelligence is a good sign. The Steelers presumably agreed, as they made it known they were taking him off their draft board.
What happened afterwards was unexpected. Adams asked for a meeting with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert for the purpose of persuading them they should draft him anyhow. They were sufficiently impressed by this to actually do so, which perhaps indicates that Adams’ best career path might be insurance sales.
One thing this did was to raise an interesting and highly passionate discussion about character issues, specifically marijuana-related character issues. Those who believe marijuana is harmless and should be legal everywhere (or who believe it should be legal, harmless or not) were incensed when this was presented as a character issue. On the other side were those of us who believed it displayed a marked lack of character because it violated known rules and regulations, something Adams had already had problems with. In our opinion Adams was a big risk, although the guts it took for him to come make his case to the Steelers mitigated the risk somewhat.
In the end it was probably worth the Steelers taking a chance on Adams, given their lack of tackle depth. He was the sixth tackle taken in that draft, and none of the 13 tackles taken after him have been anything to write home about. Admittedly, several of them are still on an NFL roster, unlike Adams.
Whether Adam’s demise, in a football sense, is a matter of bad luck, further bad choices on Adams’ part (like hanging out on the South Side at 2 in the morning, never a good idea if you’re trying to stay out of trouble) or just poor scouting on the part of the Steelers, we’ll never know. Ultimately he didn’t succeed, and it is a pity.