It isn’t the only criteria.
But man, it might be the most important.
Kevin Colbert took questions from fans on Steelers’ Nation Unite yesterday and though there isn’t much to write about from the session, he brought up one interesting part of the team’s draft evaluation.
Beyond the medical, the testing, and the tape is a requirement to truly love football.
“It sounds cliche but it’s very real to [Tomlin], it’s very real to us. We want guys who really love to play the game of football. We talk about it all the time. We want guys who, if football was taken away from them, would they be devastated, would they be satisfied, or would they be relieved? In our case, we want people to be devastated if they couldn’t play this game. We want the game to mean as much to them as we know it does to us and we know it means to our fans.”
This year’s draft class seems to reflect that notion. The Steelers had an even greater focus on effort and character, starting off with T.J. Watt, coming from a football family who lives and breathes the game. There’s James Conner, who battled and beat cancer to get back on the football field for his junior season at Pitt. And Josh Dobbs, who juggled aerospace engineering with football’s most important position.
It goes back to the team’s “hearts and smarts” mantra they repeated several times throughout the pre-draft process. It’s a front office that generally goes by gut and instinct, not numbers and data.
While it’s impossible to measure “passion” into any study we’ll do in the pre-draft process but that love of the game seems to rank as high as any trait as the team will evaluate.