Even though it’s a topic that the Pittsburgh Steelers and General Manager Kevin Colbert discuss at this time of the offseason every year, it seemed that some were still a bit confused about how the team goes about determining who their first-round draft pick is going to be.
The Steelers do not run a mock draft that includes other players. “We’ve done away with the mock drafts probably 10 years ago”, Colbert told reporters earlier today. “It was a waste of time because we’re just going to pick them as we pick them”.
What the Steelers do is focus on themselves. “Wednesday we go through a mock situation for ourselves”, he said, where they essentially have the first 20 picks in the draft, and they determine who they would take in each spot as they eliminate players from the board.
“It’s a very simple process. We’re going to have 20 guys and we’ll know exactly how we’ll pick them. We’ll determine that on Wednesday, we’ll have that final approach”, Colbert went on. “It’s 1 through 20. We’re not going to vary from it. The only thing we’re going to vary is whether we’re going to trade up or trade down. There’s really no guessing to it after Wednesday. We’ll know the 20 guys we’re picking and the specific order on Wednesday afternoon. And when we get to Thursday night, that doesn’t change”.
He added that the Steelers do go beyond their own pick in the event that they decide to trade back in order to eliminate any variables that might arise. “We’ll go past 20 because if we trade down, if we go to 28, who is it? Okay, we’ve already done it”, he said.
In addition to that, they will also have a sub-set of players, likely the ones they refer to as ‘special players’, who are must-drafts if they are available. “We’ll identify a group of players that we wouldn’t trade away from no matter what. If they were available to us at 20 and someone came to us with picks, we’ve already determined we’re taking that player”.
While they have a board set up with players ranked one through 20, however, Colbert did concede that that is not necessarily the order in which the Steelers would choose those players, because the ranking doesn’t necessarily account for scheme fit.
“The player that we have rated fifth, we might not take at five, because the player at seven who’s rated close to the guy at five is a better fit for us”, he said when asked if the team would take player 20 if the first 19 players were taken. “Because then we would take player seven over player five, but we wouldn’t take player 17 over player five, if that makes sense”.
This process seems like a much more prudent one than simulating a mock draft in which you have to guess what 31 other teams are thinking in the hopes of determining who will be available to you. The first round is a small enough sub-section of the overall process where it’s not much of a burden to mete out an order for upwards of 32 names.