PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers had no interest in drafting Ohio State's Mike Adams after the talented but troubled offensive tackle tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February.
When Adams reached out to the Steelers for a second interview to express remorse and ask for another chance, the Steelers agreed though general manager Kevin Colbert told Adams he was nowhere near Pittsburgh's draft board.
It was tough to hear, though Adams knew he "screwed up" by failing the test.
During the meeting Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II outlined the criteria Adams needed to meet if he wanted any shot at being picked by the team he rooted for while growing up in western Pennsylvania.
Consider it done.
Convinced Adams wants to turn his life around, the Steelers selected him in the second round on Friday with the 56th overall pick in the draft. While acknowledging Adams' checkered past — he missed five games last season while serving an NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits — the Steelers also believe he's sincerely trying to clean up his act.
"We didn't call him, he called us," Colbert said. "Had he not called us, this may not have occurred."
Though allowing the team's relationship with Adams is a "day-to-day process," Colbert thinks the gamble will pay off.
"It's more a risk than we're usually comfortable in taking but again because he was forthcoming, because he took matters and met our criteria, we're comfortable in taking the risk," Colbert said.
The Steelers took Miami (Fla.) linebacker Sean Spence in the third round with the 86th overall pick. Spence gives the Steelers needed depth at linebacker after the team released veteran James Farrior earlier this year.
While allowing it's "impossible" to replace Farrior, a 15-year veteran, linebacker coach Keith Butler was impressed with Spence's speed and instincts. Spence led the Hurricanes with 106 tackles last season but will likely only see times on special teams as a rookie.
More will be expected of the 6-foot-7, 323-pound Adams, the fourth offensive lineman taken in either the first or second round of the draft by the Steelers in the last three years.
Pittsburgh selected Stanford guard David DeCastro in the first round on Thursday, joining 2010 first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey and 2011 second-round pick Marcus Gilbert.
Offensive line coach Sean Kugler said Adams received a "first-round grade" during his evaluation because of his size and agility before character considerations dropped him until the latter stages of the second round.
"He's a physical player and that's a size combination that's tough to beat at the tackle position," Kugler said.
Adams was an All-Big Ten selection in 2010 and made the second team last year despite being limited to eight games because of his role in the scandal that eventually led to coach Jim Tressel's dismissal.
Colbert acknowledged the team was concerned about Adams' behavior, saying the positive test and Adams' past were major concerns.
"Those are usually offenses that we're not going to forgive," Colbert said. "But in this man's case, he sought us out, he met the criteria we provided for him and now we are comfortable with selecting him."
The Steelers are looking for some stability along the line after a bumpy 2011 in which the line struggled to stay healthy and had issues protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh gave up 42 sacks and struggled running the ball effectively in the red zone. Injuries to Pouncey, right tackle Willie Colon, guard Doug Legursky and guard Chris Kemoeatu forced the Steelers to constantly shift roles along the line to plug a hole during a given week.
The addition of Adams and DeCastro gives Pittsburgh depth and flexibility.
"We're adding two guys who are going to help us along the offensive line," Kugler said. "I promise we'll get the right guys in the right position ... I know there's been a lot of shuffling but that's been out of necessity, not out of plan."
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