Colbert: 'It's really an unpredictable draft'

It's an annual rite of passage. Just like brightly colored flowers come with the arrival of spring, so does the NFL Draft. This year's daft takes place this April 27-29 in Philadelphia, and the Steelers have a total of eight draft picks.   

On Monday, General Manager Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin held their annual pre-draft press conference at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

"We are picking at No. 30, and I am sure there are 30 guys that can help us," said Colbert.

While they never talk about who they are going to draft, they did talk all things draft, from tight ends to outside pass rushers, and everything in between.
Guessing game: Colbert and Tomlin will go into this year's draft with a game plan, just like they do every year. But unlike years past, this year there is more uncertainty not with what they want to do, but what they think could transpire with other teams.

"A lot of times going into this part of the draft process we have a pretty good idea of where this thing could go," said Colbert. "This year it's really an unpredictable draft. There are so many different variables that we see could happen around the league, and I think it all starts with the quarterback position. There are so many differing opinions on who the quarterbacks are, who is going to take who, where. It doesn't matter to us, but it leads into the unpredictability. I think you will see more trade up, trade down possibilities around the league. That part is unpredictable, more so than in the past."

Can't measure this: Like in all sports, analytics continues to play a role in football, with every aspect of the game getting a closer look. And when it comes to the draft, analytics are being used more and more. But, there are things analytics just can't measure.

"It's advanced statistics," said Colbert. "There are some different things they can research now. Fumbles, fumbles per touch, you can factor it in. We don't have any formula. It's just a piece of the puzzle. At the core you are still looking for football players.

"Once we figure out if we can measure a mind and a heart, then we will have something. In the meantime we will use every tool available to us. That is still the core. How are you going to figure out who is going to make a play when they are dead tired, down six and we need seven. The only guy you are going to rely on is the guy who has done it for his team and hope that he can do it for you."

As both Colbert and Tomlin said, it's still about finding football players, and statistics, while important, aren't always the true tale of the tape.

"The analytics guy that develops a 'will index,' they are on the cutting edge," said Tomlin.  

Here we go again: This will be the 11th NFL Draft that Tomlin and Colbert have combined for, and while the anxiety of it being uncharted waters for the two has subsided, the excitement never does.

"I think we chop up the variables so much in the preparation process, over the years there is less anxiety for me," said Tomlin. "There is excitement, but there is less anxiety. There should be. We have a definitive process we have experienced in working together. It should show and I think that it does."  

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