I wrote briefly before the draft that the Pittsburgh Steelers, at least under Head Coach Mike Tomlin, have made it a tendency to give their newest coaches some personnel assistance to get themselves started. If at the very least, it gives them the opportunity to have some hand in selecting who they will be coaching.
As General Manager Kevin Colbert recently explained, it doesn’t matter how long a position coach has been with the team; they all have input in the draft process. The scouting department headed by Colbert will seek their opinion on a number of prospects, which will factor into their overall evaluation.
As it turns out, the Steelers once again were able to find draft picks for all three of their new coaches on staff, including a total of four of their seven draft picks. The greatest beneficiary was new defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, but Darryl Drake at wide receivers coach and Karl Dunbar along the defensive line also got sought-for pupils.
Dunbar already came in with the most stable and most talented group to work with, the Steelers already boasting as starters Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave, with depth including Tyson Alualu.
While the addition to his room might not seem like much, coming in as a seventh-round pick, the fact that Dunbar personally spent the past two seasons at Alabama directly coaching defensive tackle Joshua Frazier says a lot. He should be in prime position to compete for a roster spot, and possibly even a helmet on game day as the number five and backup nose tackle.
Drake, coming in replacing Richard Mann, saw the Steelers trade Martavis Bryant away before he really got a chance to work with him, but Pittsburgh did him a favor in adding second-rounder James Washington to the wide receiver room. This is the first time the team has taken wide receivers within the first two rounds of the draft in back-to-back seasons since 1999 and 2000, when they used consecutive first-round picks on Troy Edwards and Plaxico Burress.
And as for Bradley, the veteran college coach is making his NFL debut with a bang, as the Steelers afforded him not just first-round safety Terrell Edmunds, but also Marcus Allen, another safety out of Penn State where he spent most of his career coaching.
Pittsburgh also added Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe in free agency, completely rebuilding the safety room minus Sean Davis. They did release four defensive backs from last season, namely Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, William Gay, and J.J. Wilcox. But the defensive back group looks as deep as it has been in years.
Each of these coaches will likely have had some direct involvement in scouting and evaluating the rookies they will now be coaching. While it might not be explicitly motivated to give them players they’ve evaluated to work with, I do think it helps to better integrate coaches into the staff.