During the post-draft wrap-up process, there was a variety of possible narratives that one could place on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ drafting procedures, but if there is one that head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert would like to paint this draft class with, it’s an emphasis on, in the words of the former, “tangible evidence”.
It’s a phrase that he delved back into throughout his post-draft press conference, both in summary and in response to questions. Tangible evidence, game tape, as opposed to projections about the future, is what they were looking for in this class.
We didn’t talk a lot about potential, or height-weight-speed, but more about tape and productivity. When we look at these guys, that’s what they give. 29 picks, two first-team All-Americans, an All-Big 10 guy and captain of a national champion. We really felt good about the tangible evidence that these guys were good picks as opposed to hypothetical evidence, or ‘upside’ or things of that nature; what they jumped, what they ran, how tall they were. These guys had impressive play on 2014 college tape that lends itself for us to believe that we got very good productivity and tangible football players in terms of what they were able to do at the college level.
But tangible evidence doesn’t have to mean a finished product, of course, by any means, and Tomlin acknowledged that every one of his new players will have things to work on.
He talked about the “room for improvement in that area” when asked about Gerod Holliman’s tackling. “He does have a distinguishing characteristic”, however, said Tomlin, “and that’s his ability to anticipate, find angles to the ball, and finish those plays, and that’s something you can build the rest of his game around”.
When it comes to the linebackers that they drafted, or the players that they drafted to play linebacker, to be more accurate, Colbert was asked about whether there was a deliberate movement to look for a bigger player.
“Their size is great”, he said in response, “but it’s really about that they were productive players. … Really it wasn’t by design to get bigger. We just wanted to add competition at whatever size they were”.
Naturally, the subject of height came up about the Steelers’ cornerback selections, but as Tomlin already noted earlier, they were not looking at a height-weight-speed profile. Instead, they looked at the productivity and the tape, and they came away liking what they saw in Senquez Golson and Doran Grant.
We feel that Senquez has as good of ball skills as anybody in the draft. We thought that Doran is as solid a tackler as anybody at the position in the draft. But it’s not just those skill sets alone. Both guys are very good instinct football players. You see a lot they’re capable of participating in taking calculated risks associated with the position.
Sammie Coates was pegged as a player who drops balls, but Colbert saw the tape differently. “When I see Sammie Coates running through SEC secondaries catching touchdown passes and adjusting to underthrows, showing he has the ability to adjust to the ball behind, that’s all plus”.