The Pittsburgh Steelers may have expressed a certain level of satisfaction and contentment with their pre-draft plans, but the fact remains that they are working with an incomplete data set in comparison to every other year. While those circumstances cannot be avoided, it has required some creative thinking, and may cause some sacrifices to be made.
During their pre-draft press conference yesterday, general manager Kevin Colbert acknowledged that there are 74 players that they have studied for whom they do not have times for the 40-yard dash. Even more concerning, for another 76 players (no doubt this has some overlap), they have incomplete medicals.
“We’ve got 76 players that will have incomplete physicals because they were not able to go back for the makeup physicals that they would do coming out of the Combine if they still had some injuries healing”, the general manager explained.
Ordinarily, himself and head coach Mike Tomlin would hit up a large number of Pro Days personally, and the area scouts would attend as many as possible, branching out from there. The medical rechecks and 40 times and things of that nature would have been taken care of at that stage. And so they have had to improvise.
What we’re relying on is what we see on film, as what we think a player can run”, Colbert told reporters. “We do more background and we talk to their strength coaches. There’s been several videos sent out by agents throughout the Spring. We assigned our scouts to watch those videos. You’re not gonna time anybody off of it…but what we do say is, if we think a player’s 4.5 and you watch the video and he looks like he’s running 4.65, make that note. And if he looks like he’s running 4.4, make that note”.
“John Norwig and our team doctors”, he added, “they’ve been awesome in following up with phone calls and verifying as much information as they can, medically, either talking to the player, talking to the team doctors that did the surgeries, talking to trainers, just making decisions as best we can with the information we’ve got”.
That information will still be incomplete, however. The latter quotes were in response to a question of whether or not they would have to take some players off their board because of that lack of information. He never directly answered that question, but the reasonable conclusion would have to be ‘yes’, if they were not able to satisfactorily follow up through the alternative methods that he described above.