It took NFL teams a while to figure out exactly what it was that was the strength of Adams. He’s always been talented.
As a senior at Dooly County High School in Vienna, Ga., Adams recorded 127 tackles, including 34 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks in 14 games as a senior, becoming one of the most highly coveted defensive linemen in the 2013 recruiting class.
After initially committing to Clemson, he changed his mind and chose to attend Auburn, instead.
Adams was named to the Freshman All-America team by 247sports.com and by the time he was a senior, he was named second-team All-America and an all-SEC first-team pick, finishing his career with 147 tackles, including 19.5 for a loss, 10.5 sacks and two interceptions – as a nose tackle.
Then, at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2017, Adams ran a 4.87-second 40-yard dash at 304 pounds, enticing the Green Bay Packers to select him in the third round of the NFL Draft.
But Green Bay didn’t bring Adams in as a nose tackle. Instead of playing head-up on the center, Adams was asked to be a three-technique and try to shoot the gaps between the guard and tackle.
After four up-and-down seasons in Green Bay, Adams signed as a free agent with New England in 2021. But he was released at the end of training camp, signing with the Saints. On Nov. 16, 2021, the Saints released Adams and placed him on their practice squad despite the fact he had appeared in five games, starting one, that season.
That would prove to be a key moment for Adams. Two weeks later, the Steelers were looking for an answer on their defense at nose tackle after Tyson Alualu was injured. They signed Adams off the practice squad of the Saints.
“I haven’t played the same position,” Adams said of why he bounced around. “At Green Bay. I was more of a three-technique. New England was a 3-4 defense, but I kind of played the same thing, a three-technique. Here is more of a base 3-4 and I’ve played the nose. I really hadn’t played that since college.”
It seems to suit him better.
Adams still plays some defensive tackle in the nickel and dime defenses with Heyward out. But he’s the starting nose tackle. And unlike some other places, Steelers fans love their nose tackles.
“Definitely, this fanbase is showing me plenty of love,” Adams said. “But my morale and everything comes out of this. From the head coach to coach Dunbar to my teammates. That’s what keeps me in shape besides my family and God so keep me lifted up, keep me right. It keeps me focused on just trying to get better day by day.”
It’s not always been easy on his family.
He and his wife, LaTeisha Gray-Adams, have two young sons together. After making so many moves in the past few years, they’re ready to put down roots in Pittsburgh.
“I’ve been around a couple places, so last year at the beginning of the year, I leave Green Bay, and I’m in New England,” Adams said. “Okay, boom. Well, my family is still in New England. I’m in Texas because you know we had hurricanes. By the time I get a house in New Orleans, I’m in my house for two days, and it’s Thanksgiving. I’m in the house. I literally just got it. Two days. My family comes down for Thanksgiving. Next thing I know, I’m (in Pittsburgh) on a Sunday night.”