When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL Draft, they are an organization that greatly prefers a more hands on approach, one that, without actually doing the research, certainly seems to favor the personal touch with greater earnestness than most organizations around the league.
As we have already talked about previously, when looking back over the past couple of drafts, we find that the majority of the players that the Steelers have selected were, in fact, made up of those that they invited to the South Side facility for a sit-down meeting and interview to get a feel for the person off the field, including second-round draft pick Stephon Tuitt.
But the Steelers meet with and talk to a lot more players than just the 30 or so that come to Pittsburgh to visit them. Increasingly, it seems, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert like to be out there during as many Pro Day events as possible to talk to players, many of whom they have dinner with the night before. Sometimes they even speak to the family of the players.
So it was no surprise when Colbert was asked during the team’s pre-draft press conference on Monday how often the Steelers actually select a player in the draft that they have not personally met with, and his response was “not very”.
Of course, according to the general manager’s estimate, the two alone accounted for some 130 or so personal interviews of some sort during their travels around the country visiting the Combine and attending Pro Day events. That is obviously a large pool to choose from when you only have eight or so selections to make.
This does go back somewhat to the topic that I was discussing yesterday, which is the subject of due diligence. The Steelers, more than most teams, seem to rely on this sort of due diligence in order to get a feel for the character of the prospective player that they could be adding to their locker room environment.
And just because they have given a player a significant amount of attention does not mean that that player is more likely to be highly rated on their board. It could mean the opposite, in fact, and that that player simply had a lot in his background that needed to be examined.
Tomlin and Colbert talked about the need to get the full picture when it comes to players who come into the process with red flags, such as Marcus Peters, and the team has paid him a significant amount of attention during this process because of that rather than scratching him off their list. Mike Adams from a few seasons ago is another example of a player who was selected after they did their due diligence on him.
While I might not go so far as to say that the Steelers more than other teams necessarily look for choir boys or leaders, or anything of that sort, I do believe that they tend to put a greater emphasis on finding the right players that will mesh well with what they are already building. There’s a “Steelers type of player”, and that’s exactly why you hear that phrase used during and leading up to the draft by the analysts.