If the Green Bay Packers truly adhere to drafting the "best available player," it might be hard for them to pass up Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams if he's still on the board by the 28th selection in the first round come April 26.
While he'll be drafted after USC's Matt Kalil, considered to be the top offensive line prospect in the 2012 Draft class, Adams is competing with Stanford's Jonathan Martin to become the second tackle selected.
Adams could be picked anywhere from mid-first round to early second round, but he'd be grateful if it would be the former and not the latter.
"It’s just a blessing to even be in this position, this opportunity to be here to compete, not only with myself but with the other great players from across the country," said Adams at the NFL Combine in February. "It’s something I’m very thankful for. And if my name is called in the first round,I can’t even explain how that would feel."
The Buckeyes left tackle is raw, but he's oozing with potential. It's possible the team that drafts him will not only be getting a cornerstone of their offensive line for the next decade but also a perennial Pro Bowler.
All is not rosy, however. There's bust potential with Adams, bad along with the good.
"Mike Adams has had some off-the-field issues," said NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock on a conference call with the media. "I spoke with his offensive line coach the other day. He really helped himself at The Senior Bowl."
There's no doubt Adams helped himself at the Senior Bowl, holding his own against some of the best college edge rushers in the country. But it's the issues outside the lines that have NFL personnel checking into Adams' background to find out if he's worth the investment.
Along with several other Ohio State players, Adams was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling Ohio State memorabilia and receiving impermissible benefits in return.
Before that, at the end of Adams' freshman year in college, he pled not guilty to misdemeanor charges coming from drug paraphernalia found in his car by police. Charges were later dropped, but Adams was suspended for the first two games of the 2008 season for violating team rules.
Adams acknowledged the issues that dogged him over his college career, but thinks the people that know him best can speak to his integrity.
"I’ve had some bumps in the road early in my career," said Adams. "But I think I’ve let those things build my character rather than break it down. I think that my character is something that my coaches and teammates at Ohio State will vouch for. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a bad guy. I might have made some mistakes, but I’ve definitely learned from them."
The Packers value character as evidenced by head coach Mike McCarthy's use and explanation of the term "Packer People" in his mission state upon becoming named to his current position.
And Green Bay already has a trio of young offensive tackles with high potential to go along with one accomplished veteran, so whether they want to add a first rounder at the position remains to be seen.
Chad Clifton is the experienced one, a two-time Pro Bowler entering his 13th year in the NFL. It's been speculated he'll either be cut to save salary cap space or retire, so his future with the team is uncertain.
McCarthy reportedly said at the NFL owners meetings last week that Clifton's return to Green Bay will depend upon his health. Clifton battled knee and back problems last season and underwent a back procedure in this offeseason that supposedly alleviated some of his pain.
In addition to Clifton, the Packers also have relative youngsters Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod at tackle. Bulaga and Newhouse are on the rise, but Sherrod is dealing with a broken leg that forced him to end last season on injured reserve.
The uncertainty surrounding Clifton and Sherrod makes it possible that the Packers wouldn't pass up the opportunity to add the "best available player" to their roster when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have an high-scoring offense, and protecting the face of the franchise will always be a priority, and Adams thinks that's one of his best assets.
"As an offensive lineman, especially in the NFL, pass protection, I guess, they say that’s where you make your money," said Adams. "So just coming from Ohio State we did quite a bit of that early in my career. It’s something that I pride myself on doing well and something that I’ll keep striving to get better at."
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