For most NFL teams, a common exercise internally leading up to the NFL Draft each and every year involves a mock draft simulator trying to get a read on what other teams will do in the first round, which — in the end — helps shape boards and draft strategies for teams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers operate in a much different fashion under longtime GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin.
According to Colbert, who is entering his final draft as GM of the Steelers, the team did away with the mock draft exercise more than a decade ago, instead focusing on themselves only, which has helped shape their drafting process for the last 10-12 years.
That process will be what the Steelers do this week leading up to Thursday’s first round in Las Vegas, where the Steelers currently hold the No. 20 overall pick.
"We don't concern ourselves with anyone else but ourselves." GM Kevin Colbert on predicting who other teams will pick pic.twitter.com/qELbFn6Tfp
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 25, 2022
“Honestly, no,” Colbert said when asked if he has a grasp on what other teams are trying to do in the first round, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “We did away with mocking other teams probably 10, 12 years ago, and we just said, I don’t know why we do this. We’re just guessing. And it doesn’t matter.
“We mock ourselves like we’re picking first, who are we taking? That player’s gone, we’re picking second, who are we taking. We go all the way down to 20 and we’ll have 20 guys lined up in the fashion that we’ll pick ’em. And then we would decide if we want to trade up or trade down. And that’s based on that earlier question, there’s values to do in that,” Colbert added.
“And again, when we trade away a third and a sixth I’m like, ‘are we trading away Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown?’ We don’t know. But we always try to put a player to that scenario,” Colbert added. “So, no, we don’t concern ourselves with anybody else, but ourselves. And I know there’s 20 players by Wednesday we’ll know the order will pick ’em and we’ll know who may or may not be interested in moving up or coming down. And we’ll try to make the decisions as best we can.”
That may seem like an archaic way of operating in today’s world, as more and more teams seem to have a better understanding of what others are going to do in the first round, and what players tend to fit where. That’s not how the Steelers operate, instead turning their attention inward, focusing on their own scouting department to help truly shape their board and their plan of attack, especially in the first round.
Throughout the last decade or so, the Steelers have had more hits than misses in the first round thanks to that process. Of course, there’s the misses like Artie Burns, Jarvis Jones, and Ziggy Hood, but there’s also some massive hits, like T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, and Ryan Shazier (pre-injury).
Whatever the Steelers are doing internally leading up to the draft, it seems to work more often than not. We’ll see if Colbert and Co. can land one more solid draft class for the black and gold.