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Press Conferences

'When you work together you can achieve greatness'

The Steelers' first draft conducted with a revamped personnel department was more than just Omar Khan's first talent grab as the new general manager, much more in the estimation of new Assistant General Manager Andy Weidl.

And it was the collective effort that went into it that meant everything, Weidl emphasized today.

"It was awesome," he assessed. "Working with those guys (Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin), and not only them but our entire scouting staff, the coaching staff and everybody in the building. It takes a village to do a draft, it really does. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into this. It was a big collaborative effort, come together and we find Steelers. We bring guys in, we find guys that are our kind of people, our kind of players, players who are going to add to the culture.

"When you work together, you put ego aside and you're working toward a common goal, you can achieve greatness."

It remains to be seen how much greatness will be gleaned from the Steelers' seven selections.

But Weidl is convinced the Steelers were able to draft the type of players they were seeking.

The emphasis was on tape, on heights, weights and 40-yard dash times, as always, but also on character.

The Steelers wanted big, fast, athletic players, especially in the trenches, Weidl acknowledged.

But they also wanted physicality and a love of the game, high character on and off the field, and resiliency.

"Tough-minded players and people," Weidl summarized.

That can be gleaned from watching tape.

But it takes more than assessing how a guy from Wisconsin did against a guy from Ohio State.

"You rely on your scouts," Weidl confirmed.

And on an evaluation process Weidl described as "transparent," one characterized by "fluid" communication on a daily basis, from Tomlin on down the line.

Take a look at the best photos from the Steelers 2023 NFL Draft weekend

"We are an extension of Mike and his staff," Weidl explained. "We sat down with Coach, we got in here last year for minicamp and just had him go through what he looked for in a player, what he wants in a player. All the scouts where in there, I was in there. We just asked him to do that so we were all on the same page.

"So when you go out and you're scouting in the fall you got it, you got the orders, you know what they're looking for. Part of scouting is knowing what you're looking at, knowing what you're looking for."

The Steelers think they found what they were after.

Finding young guys who checked the right boxes was a bonus.

"It was the talent first, then the player, their makeup, their football character," Weidl said. "That was a nice thing to happen. I think most of our players are under the age of 22. (First-round pick) Broderick (Jones) is gonna be 22 in 11 days. It's a young class. It's a class you take, you grow with, you watch them develop, you get them in the program.

Take a look at the best photos from the Steelers 2023 NFL Draft weekend in monochrome

"And where they are now as opposed to where they're gonna be at 24, 25 is exciting."

Not exciting enough for the new-look personnel department to take a collective victory lap.

But the rookie minicamp the Steelers will stage next Friday through Sunday will nonetheless be an occasion to celebrate.

"A lot of times you say it's like Christmas morning," Weidl beamed. "You get the new players, the new Steelers, we'll see them on the field together and see them run around, it's exciting.

"There's so much time, thousands of hours our scouts put into it on the road, away from their families, writing reports, seeing these guys at different venues, all-star games, live performances, the meeting time that we put into it, asking our coaches to do the evaluations, meet with the players.

"There's so much that goes into this, like I said, it takes a village, and it's all gonna come together. We'll see them next week on the field for the first time and they'll begin their journey."