When Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert finally steps away from the game of football, I, for one, certainly hope he decides to write a book about his experiences of running a football front office in the NFL. What a great read that would be and especially when it comes to how he liked to handle the pre-draft process.
As many of you should know by now, NFL teams are allowed to bring in 30 non-local visitors prior to each and every draft. While several teams don’t make their visitor lists public, the Steelers aren’t shy about letting those names get out on a yearly basis.
While Colbert has given broad-brush overviews in the past as to why some players are brought in and others aren’t, he rarely ever gets specific about specific players. Sure, he told us all about the situation with tackle Mike Adams several years ago after he was drafted but was pretty much forced to based on all that happened with the Ohio State product leading up to that year’s draft. He was going to be asked about it by the media regardless.
It’s certainly understandable as to why several underclassmen are brought in for visits as the organization is looking to find out more about those players and especially if they have them on their board as possible early-round selections. Take Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche for example. I think we all understand why he was brought to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. Not only is he an underclassman, he has several character red-flags as well. It’s also understandable as to why several of the late-round senior draft prospects are brought in for visits to some degree. However, what about top-rated senior prospects with a ton of college game film already attached to them, and especially ones who played their college football close to the city of Pittsburgh? I bring that question up with West Virginia safety Karl Joseph in mind.
Sure, Joseph is recovering from a knee injury and while one could easily speculate that the Steelers wanted to have their doctors spend several hours checking out the progress of his rehab, isn’t that what the yearly medical re-checks in Indianapolis are for? Let’s face it, if there’s one defensive player who the Steelers already knew quite a bit about prior to the offseason it’s Joseph, as he played in and started 42 games while at West Virginia. Sure, he missed a lot of games last season because of his knee injury, but his tape up until that point was fairly solid.
Joseph’s knee and play on the field aside, I have a feeling that the Steelers still wanted to learn a bit more about who Joseph is off the field even though Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin reportedly talked to him quite a bit at his March pro day. Could they still have minor concerns about his character even though he is regarded as being a solid team player and former captain?
With that question in mind, it’s important to remind everyone that Joseph was arrested and charged with an under 21 DUI in February of 2013. Perhaps the Steelers wanted to question Joseph a little bit more about that incident last week if they hadn’t already done so when talking to him in the past. Now, I’m not saying that Joseph is a bad person because of one bad decision that he made over three years ago as Lord knows I wasn’t an angel up to and well past my 21st birthday.
While we may never know the real reason as to why Joseph was brought in for a visit, it’s a good sign that he was when it comes to him potentially being selected by the Steelers. It would, however, just be fun to find out exactly what that reason was. While it’s easy to draw some reasoning behind each and every player that makes a pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh, the fact of the matter is that we’ll never know how right or wrong that reasoning really is unless we’re told. Perhaps one day Colbert will do just that. Ok, probably not, but it won’t stop many of us from speculating just the same.