Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has gone on record as saying that he was among the people in the league who were resistant to the idea of not delaying the 2020 NFL Draft, believing that there was too much uncertainty over how it would be held and how it would be run.
Even though he has changed his tune in hindsight and acknowledges that he was wrong—the draft went off pretty much without a hitch—he has still said that there was some relief of being able to sit through the first round to watch how it would all unfold.
It took a while for the league to formulate a plan about how this virtual draft would work. Many conferences were held to discuss potential ideas. Many ideas, surely, were rejected. The vast majority of them didn’t get leaked. Colbert’s idea, however, did get out there. He suggested adding three more rounds.
“It was disappointing, because you have what are supposed to be confidential conference calls where you discuss ideas about the draft, and I did, I did make that suggestion. Why don’t we think about three extra rounds?”, he said, speaking to Mike Florio for Pro Football Talk earlier this month.
“And the reason was, part of it was selfish”, he admitted. “We wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you have a little bit of a safety net, again. But the other thing was it would give the young player, the marginal player who didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and perform, and those players would have chances that they might not get”.
The Steelers had only six draft picks, with no selections in the first round, and their only third-round pick being of compensatory value. They also had no pick in the fifth round, but that was in part because of a trade that gave them two fourth-round picks instead.
Immediately following the draft, during which they were able to add at wide receiver, outside linebacker, running back, guard, safety, and defensive tackle, Colbert initially said that they likely were not going to be signing many undrafted free agents.
They ended up signing something like 11 players—enough that they had to release three players from the 90-man roster in order to make room for them. One wonders how many of those players they might have drafted if there were another 99 selections to be made.
The Steelers are not unfamiliar to the idea of finding quality players after the draft. Two of their starting offensive linemen are former undrafted free agents, for example, as is their starting nickel back. They have had even more success in the past with players like James Harrison.