New Steelers Regime Changing Draft Strategy, Rooney Says

After being hired in late May, 2023 marks the first full offseason of the Omar Khan and Andy Weidl regime. Not only building the roster in their vision but also applying their specific process. After a great run by Kevin Colbert, 2000 through the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers are adjusting to a slightly way of doing things.

Speaking about Khan and Weidl on 93.7 The Fan Thursday afternoon, Team President Art Rooney II already sees changes with Pittsburgh’s approach.

“I think we’re seeing changes already in the way Omar and Andy are preparing for the draft,” Rooney said via The Fan. “And I think those guys have their own ways of doing things. They’re a little different from Kevin. Everybody’s a little different and certainly we’ll see some changes in the approach to the draft.”

Rooney did not mention specific changes the front office is making though we can take a guess at some of them. Pittsburgh’s expected to be heavier into analytics than they were under Colbert, an old-school scout who loved travelling to Pro Days and watching players in person. Khan is a numbers guy (though he has an early days scouting background, too) while Weidl spent time in Baltimore and Philadelphia, two teams driven by analytics. That isn’t to say the Steelers will devalue tape, Weidl spent some of his career as an Area Scout and Mike Tomlin is very much a “trust your eyes” kind of coach but Pittsburgh’s likely to shift to a more numbers-oriented direction.

Other changes could occur too. Pittsburgh already has a larger scouting staff than past years under Colbert, a tight-knit group that saw very little turnover. After Khan and Weidl were hired, the team added several new faces to the front office including Sheldon White, Mark Sadowski, Casey Weidl, and Chris Watts. Recently, the team added a second scouting intern in Anthony Rooney. 

Perhaps the Steelers will also be more willing to make draft day deals. Colbert generally stuck to his spots and if he moved, he went up, not down. In fact, Colbert only traded down five times over his entire time with Pittsburgh and his last one came in 2010. He only traded down in the first round once, moving down three spots in 2001 while still acquiring NT Casey Hampton. His philosophy was only to move down the number of spots where you’d guarantee yourself a player you liked. Meaning, if he moved down four spots, there had to be four players he was willing to take at that spot, eliminating any risk of the board breaking the wrong way. Khan and Weidl are likely to be more open and risk-tolerant than Colbert was.

While the new regime has a different flavor, Rooney understands there’s no right or wrong answer. And the goal remains the same. Win.

“Just some of the things they’re doing already this time of year are different. Having said that, you know, Kevin had a pretty successful run. There are a lot of different ways to get it done right. I like the way Omar’s going about it so far.”

This will be the first draft since 1999 Kevin Colbert hasn’t run. It’s a new era that will be full of surprises and tweaks to the Steelers’ method. Frankly, it’ll be an adjustment for us, too. But we’ll track it all the way and hopefully will be able to outline those differences over the next few months.

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