Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin held their 2011 pre draft press conference to take questions from the local media concerning the upcoming draft later this week. Below are the talking points from the presser and we will be adding more.
Colbert said that of 160 on the Steelers draftboard their are probably 100 or so that can improve the team and said there are 20 special players in this draft. The list started at 1,000 names and was trimmed down to 400 and then was trimmed to 200 players for their draft pool. 40 of those 200 were then eliminated because of character, medical questions or they do not fit the Steelers 3-4 defense. Colbert went on to say that the Steelers would weigh offers to trade earlier in the order or later, to stockpile draft picks picks. Colbert said if you accumulate more draft picks, it sure could be helpful, especially when you can’t sign undrafted free agents because of the current lockout. Colbert admits to the value in doing that.
Colbert said that they will draft considering players who are who are signed and sealed discounting such free agents as cornerback Ike Taylor, Colbert said without further specifying that they are going to draft for the team as they know it today. He said they have seven picks, and they need them all.
Colbert and Tomlin declined to discuss any specific positions of need or ones they have might interest in drafting, but Colbert said the draft pool was light on tight ends and fullbacks. He said the numbers were good at running back, wide receiver, tackle, guard, quarterback, inside and outside linebackers and defensive tackle. Colbert said that teams do a better job of finding guys who can\’t cover in opposing defenses secondary and Colbert called the young cornerbacks on the roster an unknown quantity right now.
Tomlin said in regards to the state of his offensive line that there is a lot of uncertainty there right now.
The Steelers can bring their picks in to Pittsburgh for media obligations up until the draft ends on Saturday.
Colbert says they balance the talent versus need as far as best player avaliable and will not reach for a specific position.
Colbert says they do not concern themselves that much with what other teams will do as it does not influence them and their own decisions.
Colbert said he can not comment on any specific free agents when asked about Taylor.
Tomlin says it is difficult for rookies to make the team in any year.
Colbert says they have to play catch up after the season with the underclassmen once they have officially declared for the draft. He says from an emotionally and maturity standpoint they are not usually ready for the next level. Says they are still young guys though and the Steelers are getting them for their senior year. Tomlin says they are only ready from a football standpoint only.
Colbert says the spread offenses run in college makes it a little harder to evaluate say the offensive receiver type players. Says some of the defensive linemen are getting smaller because of the need to drop into coverage more with the spread defenses.
Tomlin says the injured linemen from last season he has not seen since the lockout ended and does not know where they are at health wise, thus the uncertainty.
Colbert says scout Bill Nunn still has a part with the talent evaluation. He also relies quite a bit on his coaches input as well.
Colbert says it is more of a passing game these days and safeties need to be able to communicate well as well as cover and tackle in addition. The Steelers really do not distinguish too much between the free and strong safety in their defense.
Colbert says the cornerback depth is an unknown, but feels good about their potential much like new draft picks.
Below is some audio from the presser: