By Christina Rivers
Not everyone agrees that the NFL combines are a true test of talent for new players who are looking for a spot on a roster or a draft nod. Although player workouts don\’t officially begin until today, one league official told writer Michael Lombardi that the combine isn\’t just about play, but also about lying. Deception seems to be a big part of the “game” during the combines, so to speak. Often players and agents will use social media to indicate they\’re interested in a team or a team is interested in them only for us regular folks to find out that neither is true.
The workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium will allow players to showcase any talents they have to all 32 NFL teams. In between these highlights, agents, teams and even the local bars are full of rumored possible transactions. Whoever beats the bluff usually comes out ahead. Those who think they have the ace sometimes get suckered into believing the talk of the town, which is usually that a certain player has the potential to make their team tops in the league. The most costly mistakes at the combines are usually made by teams that can\’t differentiate between replaceable and non-replaceable players.
Everyone knows that the Steelers are backed into a salary cap corner this season, which means that teams like the Washington Redskins (who have a lot of cap room) will most likely get targeted hard by agents. They will tell other teams that the Redskins are absolutely looking at their players, but the Steelers, traditionally, have been able to see through the smoke screen. Team personnel and their past procedures will often be a \’tell\’, but it\’s the lineup that often determines how hard the bluff is sold.
Kevin Colbert has always been prepared to walk away when bidding gets too high on a player that the team doesn\’t define to be worth as much as the hype. The Steelers organization as a whole has been very good at letting the player\’s production on the field be the proof in the pudding. The Steelers have also always developed their own charting system, and it has worked very effectively. In this game, time and money will settle the score. While the players play, watch for the agents to spend a lot of time at the table dealing chips that may not be worth their weight at all.
Thursday Steelers notes
Kevin Colbert talked mainly about Mike Wallace, the salary cap and the difficulties in finding true 3-4 defensemen during his media interview. The anticipation is that Wallace will get a first-round tender offer from another team, but the Steelers could still place the franchise tag on him. The Steelers organization will be using the Combine and Pro Days to evaluate the true potential of defensive linemen, especially those who can keep up in coverage. Colbert also pointed out the weaknesses and strengths of this year\’s draft class of offensive linemen. Guards seem to be plentiful while tackles are a bit shallow in depth. This is not the year for centers. Colbert pointed out an increase in linebackers who can cover, but so many of them are converted safeties that he didn\’t appear to be willing to go into much more discussion. The fullback pool is full of water, but no players. Tight ends are also a rare find this year.
Friday Steelers notes
According to General Manager Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Wallace isn\’t likely to be in black and purple this season. Friday, Newsome told reporters, “The problem with going after restricted free agents…the player and the agent have the leverage because you have to do a deal that you don\’t think the other team is going to match.” It appears that the Ravens aren\’t yet willing to give up a first-round pick to Pittsburgh and send over an offer that the Steelers couldn\’t match.
Back to smoke and mirrors - Newsome didn\’t rule out looking at Wallace, but explained that from day to day, he isn\’t sure what he\’ll do.