This year will mark the 18th time that Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has overseen the organizations draft and while he’s probably faced some levels of uncertainty when it comes to being able to predict what will ultimately transpire in the first round, he said Monday during his annual pre-selection press conference that this year’s draft is really tough to gauge.
“We’ve been talking in recent days, a lot of times going into this part of the draft process we have a pretty good idea about where this thing could go but this year it’s really an unpredictable draft,” Colbert said.
Colbert indicated that the uncertainty concerning this year’s quarterback draft class is the main reason why this year’s selection process, especially early on, perhaps has more unpredictability to it than years past.
“There’s so many different variables that we see could happen around the league and I think it all starts with the quarterback position,” Colbert said. “There are so many, we think, differenting opinions on who the quarterbacks are, who’s going to take who where and it really doesn’t matter to us, I just think it leads into the unpredictability because I think you’re going to see more trade up and more trade down possibilities. Not so much with us, but around the league depending on people looking for the exact guy that they want. So, that part of it it is unpredictable more so than in the past. And of course were open to trading up, trade down, we’ll make all the calls. We’ll know what the cost is to go up, we’ll know what we can pick up to go down and well leave ourselves open.”
While the Steelers have never traded out of the first round, Colbert predictably didn’t rule out the possibility of that happening this year and indicated that a fifth-year option that comes with a player drafted in the first round won’t have any bearing on the decision making process.
“It doesn’t effect us at all,” Colbert said when asked about a fifth-year option playing any kind of role in whether or not the Steelers decide to trade down and out of the first round. “I can’t think that far down the road. You’re never going to neglect the future, but we’re certainly not going to not take a guy – I know that’s a double-negative – we’re not going to stay away from a guy because of that. We’ve got to win now and in the future, but that doesn’t effect us at all.”
As for the possibility of the Steelers possibly drafting a quarterback this year, Colbert indicated he’s open to doing just that as you would probably expect him to say.
“I think we’re always open to putting a quarterback in the mix, because it is the most critical position in our game and if you don’t have a quarterback then you’re probably going to leave your team short at some point,” Colbert said when asked if he’s open to drafting a quarterback this year.
“Again, at what cost? We have a great quarterback we think that he’s going to be here for a while, at least we hope that, but we’ve got to be prepared. Again, if somebody shows that we didn’t think would be there at a given point, then you have to make sure that you secure that position for the long term.”
Colbert continued on with the reasons why the quarterback position shouldn’t be ignored even though the organization thinks and hopes Ben Roethlisberger will be around for a few more years.
“Again the great franchises that have sustained it have done it because they went from Joe Montana to Steve Young, or from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and you want to be prepared,” Colbert said. “Again, you dont want to have that lull because if you do, you’re probably not going to win a lot of games.”
The Steelers had several quarterbacks in for pre-draft visits this past month and even though they signed backup Landry Jones to a two-year contract extension just after the start of the league year, it seems likely they’ll add another one at some point during this years draft.
Later during the press conference Colbert was asked if evaluating quarterbacks is like riding a bicycle for him at this point being as he’s done it so much during his career in Pittsburgh.
“Just because you have a great player, I mean we have a great running back and a great receiver, but we still graded each one of those guys the same as we graded defensive players at any position,” Colbert started. “We will always look at all the players and maybe we dont interview as many of those positions where we’re a little stronger and we might not be drafting, but the evaluation is exactly the same for every position, really for every round.”