Now that the NFL Draft is in the books and the Pittsburgh Steelers look set with the group of players they will be taking into training camp in July, the performance of one guy in particular could determine the fate of the Steelers in 2013.
That man is second-year offensive tackle Mike Adams.
There are quite a few players that need to step up and show that they can do the job for this team. Cornerback Cortez Allen is a guy that also comes to mind, but Adams could be under the most pressure of any Steeler to perform at a high level right away.
All signs right now point to Adams getting the first crack at protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side as he will be shifting to left tackle.
The 2012 second-round pick has to not only prove he can stay healthy, but handle the adjustment from right tackle, where he played as a rookie in 2012.
Even though he’s entering his second year in a Steelers uniform, Adams is basically still a rookie with a lot to learn. He sprained his MCL in the preseason opener and returned a short time later, but Adams’ rookie season then ended in November after he suffered an ankle injury.
In 10 games at right tackle, he allowed seven sacks and 16 quarterback hurries, which doesn’t give you a lot of confidence in him off the bat. On a positive note the Steelers rushing attack was at its best once Adams settled in at right tackle a season ago.
If Adams struggles, the Steelers could move him back to right tackle and flip Marcus Gilbert to the left side, but their line will likely be at its strongest – in the short and long term – if Adams can hold down the left tackle job from Day 1.
It will allow him not only to maximize his abilities as he has the greatest upside of any of the Steelers’ tackles, but also allow Gilbert to remain on the right side where he is the most comfortable.
Of course that’s the best-case scenario and if it plays out, then the Steelers’ young offensive line could turn into strength.
The worst-case scenario is that he struggles enough that he’s not in the starting lineup. Like it or not, that could be a possibility.
That’s why there is a great deal of pressure on the Ohio State product entering his second NFL season.
He’s a guy that almost has to take his game to the next level in order for the Steelers to be successful.