- Plenty of talent available: Kevin Colbert is impressed with the overall depth in this year’s draft and feels there is exceptionally strong talent where the Steelers are selecting in the first-round, 15th overall.
“This draft is very strong in our opinion,” said Colbert. “I say that based on we are picking at 15 and the player that is going to be available to us at 15, in years past you may have had to be picking at seven or eight to get the same quality of player. There’s easily 15 players available that we’ll be very happy with if we are able to pick them. You could say there are probably at least 19 that you could say you would be happy to get at pick number 15, which is unique. That trickles down through the rounds.”
Don’t pass up on your guy: Colbert said that one of the things you have to watch for when selecting players is to not pass up on a guy with the hopes that you will find someone who can fill that spot in a later round.
“You never pass up a quality player with the hope that you are going to get someone else in the sixth round,” said Colbert. “You better take the player you like when you have the opportunity to take him. Conversely, don’t just take the guy because there are less players below him because then you are artificially valuing him. If you like him, you better take him.”
- Style vs. scheme: When putting the draft board together the Steelers focus on the scheme players have played in, but at the same time it’s not the overriding factor as often times players are moved around in the NFL and can adapt to the offensive or defensive scheme according to Coach Mike Tomlin.
“I think that that’s part of the draft evaluation process," said Tomlin. "Kevin talked about the talent in this draft. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these guys are ready made players at the position you draft them. I think it means that he have high pedigree along with upside. We talked about the scarcity in the interior line positions. The reality is that most colleges play their best players at tackle so there will be a lot of guys listed as tackle on draft boards but don’t get drafted as interior offensive linemen in the NFL. Same thing could be said for the safety position. It’s our job to evaluate the pedigree along with the upside and maybe quantify the learning curve if it constitutes a position change or a strong technique change relative to schematics that goes across the board as we look at all of these guys or most of these guys.”
- Separating the talent: The wide receiver and cornerback positions are two of the deepest in this year’s draft, making for some interesting conversations during the draft meetings with the scouts and coaches.
"It makes for an interesting evaluation and discussion," said Tomlin. "The work is so specialized now in college football. You have big wideouts and small wideouts. You have guys that play exclusively in the slot. You have guys that play exclusively outside. You even have guys that play on the left side exclusively on offense or the right side exclusively on offense. So it generated a lot of opportunity for discussion and forecasting in evaluations. It makes it a little more complex, but makes it an interesting process."
Free agency decisions: Colbert said you always go into free agency with a plan to be able to replace anyone you lose via free agency, normally knowing what positions they want to focus on.
“You go into with a plan we would like to be able to keep a wide receiver, a running back, but if we don’t then who are our options on the outside,” said Colbert. “You monitor where the various markets are, the various interests of each individual player would be. As players wanted to move on or their contracts became such we couldn’t handle the contract, we had to be able to make a move. We felt good about the people we signed as their replacements.”