As we did last year, we’re putting a bow on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 draft picks to see how they tracked with the team’s Pro Day schedule based off our tracker. All in order to help shape a correlation between the team’s process and their picks.
So let’s review who and where Pittsburgh was at when it comes to their seven draft picks.
FIRST ROUND: Kenny Pickett/QB Pittsburgh (Pre-Draft Visit)
Pro Day Attendees: HC Mike Tomlin, GM Kevin Colbert, DC Teryl Austin, VP of Football & Business Administration Omar Khan, Area Scout Dave Petett, Analyst Will Britt, OC Matt Canada
The whole gang was at Pitt. Of course, they woke up in the city, their home base. Still, the Steelers aren’t always “sending” the house to the Panthers’ Pro Day. In fact, it’s a little uncommon. But in their effort to find a quarterback, they made sure to have Tomlin, Colbert, and Canada there. It is worth noting QBs Coach Mike Sullivan was not in attendance, spending the day in Nevada to check out QB Carson Strong.
Still, the interest here was clear and substantial. And for the final 12 drafts of Kevin Colbert’s tenure, the team’s first round pick had Tomlin and/or Colbert at their Pro Day. The strongest correlation we have in this pre-draft process, we’ll see if it continues in the post-Colbert era. For our sake, I hope it does.
SECOND ROUND: George Pickens/WR Georgia
Pro Day Attendees: HC Mike Tomlin, GM Kevin Colbert, Defensive Assistant/LBs Coach Brian Flores, WRs Coach Frisman Jackson, Player Personnel Coordinator Dan Rooney Jr.
Another strong cast of characters, though the Bulldogs had so many top prospects virtually the entire NFL sent their scouts and decision-makers. WRs Coach Frisman Jackson is the key name here. He personally put Pickens through his workout and Pickens’ ability to prove his health was instrumental in the team picking him. Mike Tomlin and Matt Canada said as much. So again, a very clear line between interest and selection.
THIRD ROUND: DeMarvin Leal/DL Texas A&M
Pro Day Attendees: DL Coach Karl Dunbar, OL Coach Pat Meyer
A&M was the only place we spotted Dunbar and I’m pretty confident he didn’t attend any other workouts. So the team took the top player at that position in Leal. A&M also had teammate Jayden Peevy work out but Leal was the better prospect. Obvious choice here and Leal was the top defensive lineman we considered early in mocks.
FOURTH ROUND: Calvin Austin/WR Memphis
Pro Day Attendees: Senior Scout Rick Reiprish
Pittsburgh did have personnel in attendance but it was *only* a scout in Reiprish, the man we saw on the trail more than anyone else. Not to dismiss Reirprish but this was relatively weak correlation, making Austin the draft’s most surprising selection. A good one but surprising.
Austin did attend the Senior Bowl, and of course, the Combine, so there likely were conversations there. When I spoke with Austin after Day One, he said he hadn’t met with the team yet, but the Steelers said they spoke with him later in the week.
SIXTH ROUND: Connor Heyward/H-Back Michigan State
Pro Day Attendees: Area Scout Dan Colbert
Michigan State is Dan Colbert’s territory so it wasn’t a surprise to see him attend there. The Spartans didn’t have a ton of top talent so it’s not a shock to see just an area scout attend. Of course, Heyward is someone the team knew as well as anyone with big brother Cam already in that locker room. Cam also said Connor spent more time in the Steelers’ locker room than Kenny Pickett did. So he was an “easy” scout, I suspect.
SEVENTH ROUND: Mark Robinson/LB Ole Miss (Pre-Draft Visit)
Pro Day Attendees: HC Mike Tomlin, GM Kevin Colbert, Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt, OC Matt Canada, Player Personnel Coordinator Dan Rooney Jr., Senior Scout Rick Reiprish, VP of Football & Business Administration Omar Khan
Pittsburgh again bringing the house to Ole Miss, in part due to their interest in QB Matt Corral. The Runnin’ Rebels had a solid group of prospects this year, though most of them were Day Three type of players (Sanders, Drummond, Campbell) and of course, Robinson. He was also brought in for a pre-draft visit, putting him squarely on our radar. It was a question of if he’d be a 7th round pick or UDFA and ultimately, the team snagged him with their first of two seventh round picks.
SEVENTH ROUND: Chris Oladokun/QB South Dakota State (Pre-Draft Visit)
Pro Day Attendees: Offensive Assistant Matt Tomsho, College Scouting Coordinator Phil Kreidler
Notabe names here in Kreidler, who has been with the team as long as virtually anyone not named Rooney. And Tomsho is Matt Canada’s right-hand man to check out a QB in Oladokun. I’m guessing Canada didn’t love the idea of travelling to South Dakota in late March.
It sounds like the Steelers liked what they saw and brought Oladokun in for a pre-draft visit. That made him an easy choice as the team’s second QB should they draft one. And they did.
First, it’s good we were able to identify personnel at all the Pro Days of players the team picked. Sometimes we get that dreaded “unknown personnel member” where we’re not quite sure who was there. Not the case this season.
The results look like this. Tomlin/Colbert were at three of the Pro Days, including the team’s first-round pick. Positional coaches were at two of them (2nd/3rd round, Pickens/Leal). Three of the picks came in for pre-draft visits (Pickett, Robinson, Oladokun).
Frankly, this draft broke as cleanly as any Colbert has had. All the “rules” remained in place. Tomlin/Colbert in attendance for the first round, positional coaches for Day Two, pre-draft visits on the others with Heyward being known. Only Austin was something of a wild card.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned and as we’ll continue to say, times, they are a changing. At least, might be. We’ll see how things look under a new GM. If it’s an in-house hire like Brandon Hunt, things might be more rigid. If it’s an outside hire, all bets are off. Mike Tomlin will remain, of course, but things could look different in 2023. Of course, we’ll be there to track all that too and see if new trends emerge.