When playing the “Blue’s Clues” regarding who the Pittsburgh Steelers may have interest in taking during the NFL Draft, several factors come into play. The big point of emphasis for most first-round draft picks of the Steelers is having HC Mike Tomlin and/or GM Omar Khan at their Pro Day. Other clues include an all-star game invite, a formal interview at the NFL Combine, and a pre-draft visit for a player to be considered a possible Steelers selection.
One aspect of the Blue’s Clues that often doesn’t get talked about is the occasional Pro Day dinner where Tomlin, Khan, and other members of the staff will take a group of prospects from a big school with a lot of NFL talent out to have more personal conversations with them. We often hear about these dinners through the grapevine, whether it be a prospect talking about it at his Pro Day workout or by a report from a plugged-in media member.
The Steelers have been notorious for scheduling dinners with the top draft prospects while in town for their Pro Day, seemingly having Tomlin wining and dining multiple prospects from college football’s powerhouse schools on a yearly basis. Speaking on 102.5 WDVE, Steelers GM Omar Khan was asked how Pittsburgh normally breaks bread and shares a meal with draft prospects when they are in town.
“It’s just part of the process,” Khan said on 102.5 WDVE. “Right when we break out of the Combine, you gotta get on these quick. You have to have a good feel for where you’re going to go at that point and who you want to meet with. And you gotta start scheduling early. And sometimes you just get an hour. Other times, you know, you get a full two hours. Sometimes it’s come in, have an appetizer, and go, but you gotta start doing these right after the Combine or else you miss out. I mean, there are several dinners we try to schedule, and we can’t get, but fortunately we’ve been able to get most of them.”
The Steelers are built on forming relationships throughout the organization, and the Pro Day dinners are just another example of it. Tomlin and Khan want to have as much interaction as possible with the prospects they are considering selecting at the top of the draft. These dinners are just another tool to get to know these prospects on a more personal level. Khan mentioned how Pittsburgh normally schedules these Pro Day dinners quickly after the Combine has concluded so they don’t lose out on meeting with a draft prospect they really like who schedules with another team first. Some prospects like WR Zay Flowers reportedly scheduled multiple Pro Day dinners in a row so both teams could treat him to a meal.
It’s important to have all your basis covered before drafting men in their 20s to represent your organization. Khan and the Steelers recognize this and have put an emphasis on Pro Day dinners, making them another vital piece of the puzzle as they decide who to draft. It has yielded good results thus far, and it looks like the importance of these dinners are here to stay with a new regime running the show.