It might be too much to say that social media is a new frontier. It’s been a prominent part of people’s lives for the better part of two decades at this point. But it is something that continues to grow and become more and more intertwined with how we define and present ourselves to the world, with only means that it’s becoming more and more important.
That includes the evaluation process for players entering the NFL Draft, a fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are becoming increasingly all too aware of, given the issues that they have had with some of their own former players in recent years pertaining to their own social media usage. One could go back to Santonio Holmes in that regard as well.
In spite of the issues that it could present, General Manager Kevin Colbert said that he doesn’t believe to the best of his knowledge the team has ever yet taken a player off their board based on their social media usage. But it’s still a factor.
“Social media is a part of it. It depends on what may have been posted, but to my knowledge we haven’t” eliminated a player from consideration, he told reporters earlier today as he and Head Coach Mike Tomlin answered questions at the team’s pre-draft press conference.
“But social media, it’s new, it’s growing, it’s not going to change”, he went on. “We recognize that and I think we recognize it’s part of the evaluation, but no bigger than the kid’s personal interview with us, and we’re going to take it all into account”.
Perhaps the most notable moment in the draft so far as it pertains to social media came a couple of years ago when somebody attempted to sabotage the draft stock of tackle Laremy Tunsil, posting a video of him on his Twitter account in a compromising position. It seemingly hurt his stock some, but he was still selected 13th overall. Considered arguably the top tackle in the class, two teams passed over him in favor of others.
When it comes to social media, Colbert suggested that their concern lies more with how it affects the players than how it affects their own operations, and he explained that the team, and specifically Tomlin, tries to help enlighten draft prospects during the process.
A player “has to be aware of it because he doesn’t know what he’s in for as he becomes a professional football player”, Colbert told reporters. “We talk to players about that when we think there might be some issues that they might be carrying forward that they’re not prepared for. And even if we’re not going to draft them, Coach Tomlin does a great job at Pro Days and in the interviews, and we try to educate them”.
Earlier this year, Nick Bosa removed Tweets indicating his political leanings heading into the NFL Draft because he hoped to avoid it being an issue, more so with his future teammates than with his draft stock. It’s possible that scrubbing one’s social media history becomes a rite of passage in the pre-draft process.