Nearly every year during their annual pre-draft press conference, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin are inevitably asked about taking the best player available on their board as opposed to drafting the best player at a position need. That didn’t change Monday and Colbert was the first to confirm that this year the team again won’t pass up a good player at any position other than quarterback early on just to fill a position of need.
“I think we’ll go into it very open-minded and again, if you pass up a great player at any position, you’re going to make a mistake that you’ll regret at some point,” said Colbert.
Tomlin then quickly weighed in with his two cents on the matter.
“I think that’s the critical element of it,” said Tomlin. “I think when you make that comment, you’re not doing your due diligence in terms of the possibilities, and we’re open to the possibilities of a great player falling in our lap, or great opportunities falling in our lap. And I think if we don’t take that approach, then we’re missing the boat.”
So, does the best player on the board mentality end after the third round for Colbert and company?
“No,” said Colbert. “Again first-round, second-round, third-round, if we pass up a great one to fill a position of need, it will be a mistake and it will bite us somewhere, somehow, we’ll regret that move and we’ll try not to make it.”
If the Steelers don’t trade up or down in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft, their first selection will come 22 picks into the annual event and at that point it will be interesting to see if a wide receiver such as DeVante Parker or Jaelen Strong are still on the board at that point. The same goes for offensive lineman Andrus Peat or La’el Collins, as both are considered to be top-20 selections by several draftniks.
There’s also a chance that edge-rushers Randy Gregory and Shane Ray might still be on the board come time for the Steelers first pick due to their character concerns and while both would fit a need of the Steelers, the off-the-field risk and playing style warts the two have might not make them fits in Pittsburgh, even though both have long been considered top-20 prospects in this year’s draft class throughout most of the offseason.
In the end, Tomlin said that the process during the draft usually takes care of itself.
“This is like the ninth draft for us together and we’ve had these discussions many times over the years, said Tomlin. “I just think invariably, as you push through the draft, whatever draft it is, it takes care of itself.”
Many Steelers fans hope that this year the best players available on the board in the early rounds also fills positions of need, which this year is cornerback and outside linebacker. We’ll find out very soon if that winds up being the case.