With the 2022 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, change is coming for the Pittsburgh Steelers as General Manager Kevin Colbert transitions to a new role within the organization after 22 years in charge of roster construction and overall player acquisition.
In those 22 years, Colbert has seen the NFL change drastically, not only from an on-field product, but to the level of popularity the league has now reached, making it a seemingly year-round product.
Appearing on the 102.5 WDVE morning show with Randy Baumann Tuesday to discuss the 2022 NFL Draft, Colbert reflected on his time in charge of the Steelers, and highlighted the ever-changing landscape in the NFL, stating that the introduction of analytics has been the biggest change he’s had to deal with from a scouting standpoint overall.
“Again, you know, the analytic side of things, it will continue to grow. You’re not gonna stop that factor,” Colbert said Tuesday, according to audio via iHeart Radio. “And, again, we always try to remind the young folks that’s a great tool but it has to be applied to what you really believe. And, you know, we’ve made mistake and the mistakes we’ve made was when we’ve misjudged the players, his heart and his smarts. And that’s the things that we always remind the guys. You’re never gonna be able to measure those things.
“You know, scouting the football talent has never been as hard as trying to determine that intangible quality,” Colbert added. “And I just think that’s something that has changed and will continue to change, but if you wanna be successful, you better be able to judge those characteristics as much as you can judge the talent and the production.”
That’s where the Steelers have seemingly been able to separate themselves from others in recent years as the influx of advanced analytics comes into play when scouting a player in a given draft year, or in free agency overall. That’s because the Steelers still believe in those intangibles, like character, heart, and overall smarts. No numbers can truly quantify that.
Though the advanced numbers are truly carving out a place in the game, much like in baseball and hockey in recent years, Colbert still believes in hitting the road and really getting his hands on players in the scouting process, rather than looking at numbers overall to shape an opinion.
“I mean, that’s what we do and that’ll never be lost on the profession as I see it,” Colbert said regarding still being an old-school scout at heart. “The game, it’s changing of course, and we understand the analytical role and we understand how things can be different and have to be different. the young scouts on the staff kept me up to speed with that. And, you know, I tried to keep them up to speed on the grounded principles that we all were raised on.
“But, at heart, yes, that was the most enjoyable part when you could go to a practice or to a game or to a film room and actually, you know, do that hands on work,” Colbert added. “Not that I didn’t trust the people that work for us, but, I wanted to be just as involved as they were.”
Moving forward, it remains to be seen just how involved Colbert will be with the franchise, but as a scout at heart, he’ll remain around the organization in some capacity, most likely around the football size of things, getting his hands dirty from time to time.