The NFL received pushback, both from the outside and from within, when the league announced back in the middle of March that it still intended to proceed with the 2020 NFL Draft without interruption. Of course, there would be numerous changes regarding the way it was run, but it would not be delayed.
There were reports that there were a number of general managers around the league who were not happy about the draft going on as scheduled, in large part because of the cancellation of Pro Days and pre-draft visits greatly limiting the sort of data that teams would be able to collect about prospects.
We now know that Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was among those general managers who were opposed to having the draft on its original dates. How do we know this? The best possible way, of course: he said it himself, speaking on SiriusXM yesterday
“I was very skeptical. I was not in favor of holding the draft, quite honestly”, he told his hosts. “We made the most of it and, I can’t give Ken Fiore and his staff at the league enough credit because of the job they did in making sure that this would work and I can honestly say it was almost flawless and I can’t applaud those guys enough”
“From our end, very little technical difficulties”, he added. The meetings we felt were very productive. They went well for us and we were comfortable with making the picks, albeit without as much information as we’ve had in the past”.
This all echoes what Colbert and Mike Tomlin had already said after the draft. In fact, Colbert even went so far as to say that he felt more comfortable and prepared with his feel for the late-round and priority free agent prospects than he would normally be in most years, simply because they had more time to get deep into the tape evaluations, rather than being on the road or spending all day hosting prospects.
Last month, the general manager made headlines somewhat when it was reported that he had suggested the league expand the draft to 10 rounds, rather than seven. While nothing came of this, it was discussed in the media, and other general managers were asked for their thoughts on the idea.
He told his hosts that that was part of a confidential meeting and that, “unfortunately, that part of the meeting became public knowledge”. He did expand on his thought process behind the original idea though, which he essentially confirmed was genuine.
While part of it was just with the idea of trying to “limit or mistake capability” by giving them three more draft picks, he added that “it would also be good for these young men that weren’t going to have a pro day experience have an opportunity to get drafted”.
Colbert acknowledged after the draft that they had incomplete medicals and workouts for about 75 players each. They even were the first team to draft a player who wasn’t invited to the Combine. Go figure.