3 takes from pre-draft presser


  1. Taking it outside: Over the years the Steelers have selected defensive ends who played in a 4-3 defense, but are hybrids that can switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. But things are changing in the college ranks, and more of those ends are playing straight outside linebacker, something that works to the team's advantage.

"There are less projections or less conversions," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We talked about it for the first time a couple of years ago when we drafted Jarvis Jones. He is a guy that played outside linebacker and played on two feet in college. When we're talking about trends in college football I think that that's another trend. I think you're seeing more and more guys actually playing the 3-4 outside linebacker position in college than you did a number of years ago." 2. Character counts:* *The Steelers have always been a team that has looked at an individual's character before considering drafting him, checking all areas of their life and investigating any red flags. But with the popularity of social media and every small note now headline news, it's up to the teams to investigate players even further, and to find out if sometimes mountains truly are made out of mole hills.

"I think (character has) always been important for us," said General Manager Kevin Colbert. "It probably changes. It's a different world as we all know. Social media makes it everybody's business as to what a player's transgressions may have been in college. 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. I think that part of it has changed.

"The character is always going to be, always has been and always will be important. 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. Again, I will always try to say, you sort out what's real and what's rumored. If you find out what's real, then you find out whether or not you can deal with it and whether you want to deal with it. And that's what we'll try to do."

  1. Timing is everything: The NFL Draft used to be one or two days, with rapid fire picks and no television coverage. Of course those days are long gone, with it now a television extravaganza that takes place over three days. The good news this year, though, is when those three days fall. Last year it was held May 8-10, but this year it's been moved forward to April 30-May 2.  

"The draft has become an event, and that's fine," said Colbert. "I don't think that it's ever going to go back to the way it used to be. I think this time period right here is probably ideal, because it gave us enough time to get through the pro day season, which we think is important. And it gave us time to thoroughly go through our meetings. Last year when it was in mid-May it was way too late. You didn't need that much time to meet. And the pro days had already been over for six weeks. So that to me was excessive.

"I think right where we are right now is as ideal as it's going to be. I wish we could move it up a little bit, because if you do your evaluations quickly, a lot of times the spring lets the teams that don't do their evaluations correctly catch up. And we then get too much shared information. I think it has homogenized the process to a point, but that's never going to change."

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