Earlier this month, former Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier tweeted that he had had dinner with Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in addition to others from the organization prior to his pro day. In my report of that news, I mentioned that Frazier probably wasn’t the only former Alabama player that Tomlin and company dined with that evening. As it turns out, Frazier wasn’t the only former Alabama player at that dinner.
According to Jeremy Fowler of espn.com, Tomlin said Monday at the league owners meetings in Orlando, FL that he remembers dining with about eight former Alabama players ahead of that pro day earlier this month. While we don’t know the full list of those players, it’s probably a good bet that Tomlin’s dining partners that evening included linebacker Rashaan Evans, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison, and defensive lineman and Da’Ron Payne in addition to Frazier. While Frazier is considered a late-round draft prospect, Evans, Ridley, Fitzpatrick, Harrison and Payne are all expected to be drafted in the first 50 overall selections roughly a month from now.
The Steelers sent quite a few people to the Alabama pro day this year and that list included Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert, defensive coordinator Keith Butler, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and inside linebacker coach Jerry Olsavsky. I think I even spotted special teams coordinator Danny Smith there as well during the broadcast of the event, but his presence there can’t be confirmed.
While it’s not a prerequisite for a Steelers first-round draft pick to have his pro day attended by either Tomlin or Colbert, that’s coincidentally been the case with the organization dating back to at least 2010.
The Steelers haven’t drafted a player out of Alabama since Colbert arrived in 2000. In fact, former defensive back Deshea Townsend was the last former Alabama player to be selected by the Steelers and that was in the fourth-round of the 1998 NFL Draft. If ever were there a year that streak could end, this year might be it.