With nothing but time between now and the 2022 NFL Draft, which will be the last as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers for Kevin Colbert, the Steelers used the time wisely, interviewing a robust set of candidates for the pending opening at the top of the roster decision making in the Steel City.
To date, the Steelers have interviewed 16 total candidates for Colbert’s job, including the likes of Brandon Hunt and Omar Khan internally, allowing the Steelers to really dive deep into the rolodex across the league and cast a wide net for the most important position within the Steelers’ organization on the player personnel side.
While Hunt, the current Pro Scouting Coordinator in Pittsburgh, remains the perceived from runner for the job, the Steelers are holding all their cards close to their vest, keeping a lid on things overall within the GM search.
Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II — who appeared on the Movin’ the Chains show with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Sirius XM earlier in the week — continued to keep a lid on things, praising the strong pool of candidates while also stating that he hopes Colbert sticks around in some capacity for the foreseeable future, much like his former counterpart in Baltimore in Ozzie Newsome.
“Well, Kevin’s not using the retirement word, and so I’m certainly not gonna force that word on him,” Rooney told Miller and Kirwan, according to audio via Sirius XM. “He is stepping down as our GM, and so, we will have a new GM that we’ll name after the draft at some point. The search is going well. A lot of great people in this league to talk to, and we’ll narrow it down to a shorter list after the draft and [go from there].”
That falls in line with everything that’s come out about the Steelers’ GM search, as Pittsburgh gathered a pool of 16 candidates and conducted a number of interviews in the first round of things, which was a process that Colbert said was largely aimed at giving Rooney an understanding of some candidates around the league, getting to know them before really diving into fits or philosophies.
“We really don’t get into specifics about what they do at a given organization,” Colbert said of the first interviews. “We’re just trying to give Art an understanding of who these folks are. Once we get down and narrow it down to, whoever’s gonna come back for the second interviews we may drill down more on, ‘how would you go about this?’ We haven’t really of gotten into specifics about our team, their approach in this round. It’s just Art learning who these who these folks are and what they’ve done to this point. We get into a little bit of maybe what they’ll plan to do but honestly, we’ll narrow that in tighter on the second round.”
Though the pool of candidates is rather deep, Hunt remains the perceived frontrunner, and has garnered praise from Colbert and Rooney, as has Khan as the Steelers seemingly lean towards staying in-house and promoting from within, allowing things to possibly roll along comfortably with Mike Tomlin at the helm of the roster as head coach.
“It’s been great. They’re capable folks that have grown up in the system. Omar’s been in that cap world, the operations world, but he’s also been involved in our process every step of the way,” Colbert said regarding Khan and Hunt. “Maybe not as an evaluator but certainly understanding it and given us contributions from a cap perspective, Brandon grew up in the personnel side and he’s learned the cap side of things much like Omar learned the personnel side. So they’ve grown.
“The great thing about both of them, they’ve both done great jobs, but they understand what the Pittsburgh Steelers are about. Some folks from outside that we may talk to may have been part of it at some point in time, but they have an obviously in-house perspective, which I think is very valuable.”
Ultimately, the hiring of the next GM in Steelers’ history will come down to Rooney, who stated that the basic structure of the front office will remain the same, regardless of who is in charge on the player personnel side of things moving forward.