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Would Steelers consider Shane Ray with first-round draft pick?

4/28/2015


General manager Kevin Colbert talked Monday at length about how character is a consideration when the Pittsburgh Steelers assemble their draft board.

That trait is particularly germane when it comes to a player who a couple of weeks ago was widely considered one of the top-10 prospects in the draft.

How much Shane Ray's stock has dropped after the Missouri defensive end was cited Monday for marijuana possession remains to be seen. Ray is still planning to attend the NFL draft in Chicago, per ESPN's Josina Anderson, but he could have a long wait.

And there is now a very good chance Ray will be available when the Steelers make their first pick at No. 22 overall -- something that became a possibility when questions surfaced about a lingering toe injury that has hampered the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

The latest news regarding Ray has teams doubling back on the 6-3, 245-pounder as well as double-checking the work they have done on the player who recorded 14.5 sacks last season.

The Steelers should be one of those teams given their need for pass-rushers and Ray's undeniable talent.

Colbert said the organization treats potential character risks on an individual basis. He also acknowledged that while character remains important when scouting prospects, it has changed as far as evaluating it.

There is simply more noise to sort through given how much the landscape has changed in general.

"Social media makes it everybody's business as to what a player's transgressions may have been in college," Colbert said. "Maybe in the past the public didn't know about it. It was up to the teams to maybe manage the issues that you were dealing with. Now that doesn't exist anymore. There's so much information that's available. The character is always going to be, always has been and always will be important. It's maybe how you manage the public perception of that character. We're going to do our due diligence and find out as much as we can about a person that's had some type of issue."

Ray overcame tremendous odds in putting himself at the brink of the NFL. He survived a neighborhood that has been dubbed a "murder factory" and he excelled at Missouri.

Now it is up to teams such as the Steelers to determine whether his citation for marijuana possession is a lapse in judgment from which he will learn, or if it signals a larger problem that makes Ray too much of a risk in which to invest a first-round pick.