The Steelers will certainly miss tight end Heath Miller, but by all accounts Ladarius Green is a smart choice to fill in for the 2005 first-round pick out of the University of Virginia. Green was the San Diego Charger's fourth round draft pick in 2012 and accumulated 1,087 receiving yards, 77 receptions and seven touchdowns during his four seasons in the NFL.
The Steelers are well-known for vetting players thoroughly with an entourage of coaches, scouts, and other front-office staff participating in the process. Back in 2012, the Steelers used one of the NFL-permitted 30 visits to meet with Ladarius Green, then a promising athlete entering the draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. In 2012, the Steelers opted not to draft Green, instead using their fourth-round pick to draft defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu. 2012 was not the Steelers best draft year. Outside of offensive guard David DeCastro, their first round pick, and seventh-round sleeper Kelvin Beachum, the Steelers 2012 draft was mediocre.
In March, Tomlin said via Steelers.com:
"We like to get out, we're very active in the pro days, on the pro-day circuit."We believe there's no exception to getting our feet on the ground and interacting with the young men and those who they work with, and getting ourselves a better chance at understanding them and getting to know them. Like in the instance of Green, even things that don't pan out from a draft standpoint, we might be doing visits with them in the future. And that's going to be a great day or two well spent, if we get the opportunity to do business with any of these guys."
Green was attractive to the Steelers not only because of his on-field performance, but also because of intangibles that are compatible with the organization's values. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN recently wrote, "Green is a private person who avoids trouble." He quoted Louisiana Lafayette's Mark Hudspeth who said of Green, "A lot of times you see a phenomenal athlete and he lacks in certain areas off the field. I just think (Green) has his act together in all the right ways."
Despite the Steelers showing interest in Green again in 2016, most would agree better late than never for the extremely athletic tight end.