I have a confession: I haven’t bothered to learn much about Steelers seventh round pick Keion Adams.
For example, when I Googled him a little earlier so I could do some research for this story, I typed “Kion Wilson” (who actually exists, believe it or not, and even played for the Steelers).
I also didn’t know the young outside linebacker played his college ball at Western Michigan. I mean, I may have known that, perhaps subconsciously, but if Adams’ Wikipedia page would have named Oregon or the Mt. Washington Vocational School of Refrigerator Repair after “College:”, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
You might call it laziness (and you might be right). But it’s not totally my fault, considering all the mental energy I’ve had to spend processing Colin Holba, sixth round pick, Louisville.
And when I haven’t been spending time on players like Holba (did you know he is a long-snapper?), I’ve been, with great help from everyone on the Internet, debating topics like T.J. Watt’s worthiness as a first round pick and Landry Jones’ worthiness as a human being, thanks in large part to the selection of quarterback Joshua Dobbs in Round 4.
I do realize that, again, thanks to the Internet, you can spend as much time as you want these days learning about every single selection from the entire 2017 NFL Draft,
But in addition to being lazy and preoccupied with Colin Holba, I guess I’m a little jaded.
You see, about a year ago at this time, I wrote an article about how it was quite conceivable the entire 2016 draft class could make the Steelers roster out of training camp.
While I gushed about a lot of players from the class, I saved some extra props for linebacker Travis Feeney, the team’s sixth round pick out of Washington.
In fact, not only didn’t I Google “Dwight Freeney” when researching Feeney (although, this could have happened), I even used a picture of Feeney as a means to promote the story (it could have been site editor Jeff Hartman, though—I’m not good with that kind of stuff).
Here is some of what I wrote about Feeney:
“Pittsburgh's sixth round pick, linebacker Travis Feeney from Washington, may actually be the most intriguing pick of the draft. Not only is he athletically gifted (4.5 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical), he was productive in college, especially his senior season, when he recorded eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.”
I went on to write other great stuff about Feeney, that included college awards and how it could have been a blessing in disguise that injuries forced him to drop so far and into Pittsburgh’s loving arms.
Bottom line: Feeney didn’t make the final roster, and he spent the majority of the season on the team’s practice squad before finally being picked up by the Saints near the end of the 2016 season.
According to his Wikipedia page, Feeney is now on Injured Reserve which, I guess, means he’ll spend the entire 2017 season either experiencing what will ultimately become the first or second chapter of a great James Harrison-like underdog story, or he’ll be one step closer to getting on with his life’s work.
If it’s the second thing, Feeney will be just another in a long line of sixth round picks who didn’t have much of a football career.
Back to Adams.
As a seventh round pick, if he does go on to prove all the doubters (or in my case, uniformed Jaded Joeys) wrong by coming out of nowhere to have a great NFL career, wouldn’t that be a great story?
Remember five years ago, when the Steelers selected guard David DeCastro in the first round and exceptionally talented but troubled tackle Mike Adams in the second round?
I do, because not only was I drunk off of the unexpected future Pro Bowl guard that somehow fell into the Steelers laps at 24, I was intrigued by the first round-type talent that Adams, who was originally erased from Pittsburgh’s board after doing such pre-draft things as failing a drug test at the Combine just months prior, could infuse into the—at the time—struggling offensive line.
I certainly wasn’t intrigued by tackle Kelvin Beachum, the team’s fourth and final pick of the seventh round.
However, while DeCastro and Adams struggled with injuries in 2012, Beachum, a product of SMU, started five games at right tackle near the end of the season.
The following year, after Adams struggled with a lot of things, Beachum was thrust into the starting lineup at left tackle and, at 6’2” and 303 pounds, spent the final 12 games superbly defending quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.
Beachum started all 16 games in 2014 and was quickly developing a reputation as one of the NFL’s best young tackles, before his 2015 campaign was cut short after just six games thanks to a torn ACL.
Not a bad underdog story.
If you want to go back even further to the late-’80’s (you probably don’t, but I do), you can cite John Jackson as another late-round draft pick nobody cared about until he actually proved himself.
For starters, the Internet wasn’t even around then. Secondly, mere hours after making Eastern Kentucky defensive end Aaron Jones the 18th pick of the 1988 NFL Draft, I, for one, was still too crestfallen and dismayed to even notice when Pittsburgh went back to EKU 234 picks later to select Jackson, an offensive tackle, in the 10th round.
If you know anything about the ‘88 draft class, you may remember that it was pretty atrocious, save for Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson; and Jackson, who played 10 years in Pittsburgh and started 130 games at left tackle, before leaving for the Chargers as a much sought-after free-agent following the 1997 season. (And my research didn’t confirm this, but I believe Jackson even appeared on Oprah near the end of his Steelers run.)
So, you see, while I didn’t pay much attention to either Beachum or Jackson when they were drafted, believe me, by the time they left Pittsburgh, I knew exactly who they were (I didn’t want either to leave as a free agent).
Hopefully, when he becomes a free agent four years from now, I’ll know exactly who Keion Adams is and will want the Steelers to do everything in their power to keep him around.