In the sports realm, the phrase “big shoes to fill” gets thrown around a lot, and for good reason. We witnessed first-hand the end of an era in the waning moments of the 2021 NFL season, as the best quarterback in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ illustrious history, Ben Roethlisberger, rode off into the sunset that is retirement. Simply replacing him will be very difficult, as he leaves in his wake two Super Bowl titles all while guiding the team to no worse than a .500 record in each of his 18 seasons at the helm.
So yes, Kenny Pickett, the team’s first-round QB this year, has massive shoes to fill. This applies to personnel, too, as we witnessed outgoing General Manager Kevin Colbert put the final touches on another successful draft haul a few weeks ago.
The front office definitely did their due diligence in searching for his successor, but most in league circles knew the heir would come from within and that was certainly the case when the team elevated former VP of Football & Business Administration Omar Khan into the GM role days ago. He certainly has the inside track on being successful, as he’s worked by Colbert’s side for years now.
However, he also has expectations to live up to, as Colbert’s draft mastery includes many more hits than misses, including multi-time Pro Bowlers and Hall Of Famers, some already enshrined and several others well on their way.
“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, I mean you don’t really replace Kevin,” Khan told Team Reporter Missi Matthews earlier today on the Pittsburgh Steelers official YouTube channel. “Kevin and I have been together for over 20 years. I’ve learned so much from him, great lessons, and I’m really just going to build on what he’s taught me and then put some ideas that I have in place that I think will help us out and just move forward.“
Khan clearly knows the Steelers’ way, and looks to move forward without the team really missing a beat from Colbert’s tenure. His assistant GM is Andy Weidl, the former VP of Player Personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles, and someone who was in contention for the top spot in his own right, as he made the list of finalists and interviewed twice. Both will work hand-in-hand to guide the ship into a new era of Steelers football, and it’s fitting, considering Roethlisberger and Colbert went out together.
Over Colbert’s time at the helm, the team was extremely notorious for standing pat during free agency, instead honing in on the draft to build their team, and the results spoke for themselves. This even carried over to multiple drafts, as the tried-and-true method of staying still and going the “Best Player Available” route worked in their favor numerous times when need matched player. Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, T.J. Watt, Heath Miller, and David DeCastro are just a few examples.
This method is thinking is something Khan said he values, and it’s something that isn’t going anywhere. He also filled us in on a humorous tip Colbert gave him regarding an all-time franchise great that he’ll always keep in mind.
“The approach here is, you always build around the draft, and that’s not going to change here. Obviously I have some ideas that I’m going to put in place, but that approach will never change. The other thing he always said is when Joe Greene speaks, you listen, and I’m always going to remember that.”