The further I get into my research of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft class of 2013, one thing has become very apparent and that is the fact that this is a class of character as opposed to a class with characters like they drafted last year.
The Steelers 2012 draft class included three players that had character red flags. Those players were Mike Adams, Alameda Ta\’amu and Chris Rainey. Adams, who the Steelers initially pulled off of their draft board following him testing positive for marijuana at the combine, begged his way back onto the Steelers board and thankfully has stayed on the straight and narrow since. Ta\’amu and Rainey, however, are different stories, and I shouldn\’t have to recap what has happened to both of them since being drafted.
My podcast co-host David Todd has interviewed several of the college coaches of players that the Steelers drafted this year, and while you would expect any coach to talk positively about a former player of his that was just drafted into the NFL, the coaches that Todd has talked to have really gone out of their way to talk about how good of people their former players are. If you have heard any of these interviews, you certainly understand what I am saying.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones, the Steelers first-round draft pick this year, has an incredibly backstory that includes him overcoming the murder of his older brother in 2005 when he was just 15 years old. Jones eventually learned to channel his anger following the his brothers death through football and he became not only one of the country\’s top prep recruits, but a top college football player in addition.
Safety Shamarko Thomas, who the Steelers traded up to select in the fourth round, has already lost both of his parents which resulted in him having to help raise five younger siblings. Thomas reportedly told his mother before she died that he would become successful in order to provide for his siblings.
Fifth round cornerback Terry Hawthorne decided against declaring for the NFL draft following his junior year as he wanted to show the kids back at his East St. Louis high school, especially the ones thinking about dropping out, that they could make to college, and more importantly, graduate.
Quarterback Landry Jones, who the Steelers also drafted in the fourth round, overcame severe depression, suicidal thoughts and a drinking problem following a rough freshman year at Oklahoma.
Third round wide receiver Markus Wheaton was described recently by his college position coach as an outstanding human being with a smile that can light up a room. He went on to say that he has never been around a player such as Wheaton that was more liked not only in a team environment, but the local community as well.
Does any of the above guarantee that the Steelers won\’t have issues with any member of this draft class moving forward? No, but you reap what you sew and I think that the Steelers have lessened their chances of any of these nine players becoming characters by doing their homework this year and only drafting players with solid character.
Below are a few videos that you might enjoy if you havent alreasdy seen them.