This Year The Steelers Drafted A Class Of Character As Opposed To Class With Characters

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.

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I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Go Steelers!

    Just a constructive thought- shouldn’t the title be that this year’s draft was a class with character as opposed to a class of characters…

  • SteelerDave

    Terry Hawthorne being from East St. Louis hits close. One of my closest friends before he passed lived in East St. Louis for a long, long time. Any young man who can overcome the challenges of growing up there has my respect. His future looks bright with us and I will be especially rooting for him.

  • awlcohen

    Please.

    As you stated, just because a player has a supposed (the key word here) clean past (relying on the mass media, players biased coaches, and youtube videos made by professionals paid by players agents are not the best sources) in no way means they will stay clean when they get into the NFL and start getting paid.

    Mike Adams had a transgression in college, but if you ever took 20 seconds to hear him interviewed he is very intelligent and very remorseful about what he did. You make a broad judgement and threw him under the bus immediately.

    End of the day a significant portion of the guys in the NFL and coming into the NFL have criminal records and/or questionable incidents for which they were not charged. Steelers fans need to get over the BS that Rooney’s only want class guys and will not tolerate misbehavior. If they did this team would be amongst the worst in the league as Ben wouldn’t be the QB, Harrison would have been gone long ago, Jeff Reed wouldn’t have lasted very long amongst many others.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    This is the main reason I loved this draft. It seems the Locker room needed a new group of quality young men who are good players as opposed to children with tons of talent.

  • rizzo29

    Please you make it sound like the steelers draft and sign player’s like cincy, and oak do.

  • dgh57

    Your negativity is overwhelming!!!!!!!!

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Le’veon Bell also is a guy with great character. I am feeling really good about this draft class!

  • Kevin Gobleck

    And Baltimore

  • Richard Edlin

    When drafting, I think it’s fair to try to look for a ‘not asshat’ factor, and require more talent to make things worthwhile if it is there. They were happy enough that the draft class (including Rainey/Adams/Ta’amu) weren’t going to be a real problem OR that they were good enough to make up for it. They thought enough of Ta’amu to trade up and I’m sure they were expecting a franchise nose tackle this year and for the next 10 years. Rainey had Pouncey vouching for him, and I’m sure his fall from grace has also affected how Pouncey’s judgement is viewed at Pittsburgh. Adams has been quiet (thus far), and that’s great. This year, it looks like they placed greater weight on the ‘not asshat’ thing OR didn’t have the option of the more talented, more troubled players. (It’s possibly just the way it all panned out …)

    Once you’ve got the players, you’re probably stuck with them unless you judge that they’re going to be worse going forwards. Last year, they made the judgement with Rainey and put Ta’amu on the naughty list when they signed Fangupo as his potential replacement. As for Roethlisberger … it’s hard to get rid of someone upon whom the franchise is so reliant but he does make supporting the Steelers harder than it should be. Fortunately the neanderthal is gone …

    I agree that the Steelers aren’t squeaky clean but they probably place a slightly higher weight on character in their draftees than some other teams. I can’t see much evidence that the Steelers care about conduct once you’re signed. I know of other (non-NFL) franchises that do place a real premium on character and they will let you walk if fail to meet to the standard to which they hold players. Those teams build very slowly and stay on top once they succeed.

  • dgh57

    Now that’s what I like to hear: Optimism about the draft!! I to feel confident about this draft!!

  • Stephen Dale

    As long as the “good character” guys can play and succeed in the NFL-fine. Otherwise their “good character” won’t keep them on the team or the coaches from being replaced.. Maybe their “good character” will overcome their medical issues, and lack of size and quickness which made some of them suspect to begin with.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Awesome story Dave! From what I gather they are battle tested and ready for whatever life throws at them! I can relate to Landry Jones as I too have suffered from severe depression. Even if some have short careers in the NFL they will be successful. Shark Thomas has an amazing story! I’m really routing for all of these guys but especially him!

  • Michael Mazanowski

    I’m excited about this class!

  • Bill Bob

    I will take a thug and drunk with 4.2 speed at RB , OLB and WR. Give them one chance to change. they are young and in college but I would kept tabs on them and test them.

  • Jazz

    Bravo! Funny how you mention quality men > than children with tons of talent. Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall; both of those young men had tons of talent, very immature for their age. Mike Wallace recent comments about someone being gay. I think the Steelers are on the right track, no one is perfect and you simply just never know. Look at the QB, enough said. But why take additional chances and draft a player that has had several issues with the Law? Chris Rainey had a few run-ins with the Law prior to being drafted. Ta’amu had a couple of alcohol related incidents at Washington University as well. Mike Adams did something stupid, getting high prior to the combine, and violating an NCAA Rule. Nobody is perfect, I hope they all have learned their lesson, especially Rainey.