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Steelers Countdown Series Highlights Importance Of Finding ‘Steelers Players’

The Pittsburgh Steelers website posted the second episode of “Countdown”, their behind the draft series, yesterday, which documents the process the team went through from the conclusion of the season and up to the draft.

While the majority of the content is fairly layman in nature that more faithful observers of the sport—like those who read Steelers blogs such as ours—would already be aware of, it’s always good to gain the perspective of the coaching staff and the owners through the interviews included in the series.

In this second episode, we get a chance to hear from head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert, team president Art Rooney II, and both defensive and offensive coordinators Dick LeBeau and Todd Haley.

The common thread that seems to run through the interviews in this episode gets at the heart of the draft evaluation process.

Namely, the evaluators strive to isolate the player from their college tape and instead try to project what type of player they will be, not only on the professional level generally, but also specifically for the Steelers. Haley perhaps put it best:

They’re not concerned with the Xs and Os, whether guys are making mental mistakes or doing it the right way. They have to have a big-picture vision for what these guys can become. I obviously know from being here and being the offensive coordinator what our needs as coaches are, what our wish list would be, what we’re missing, what will make us better, the quickest. But at the same time, you’re not evaluating really what they are when they’re eligible for the draft. You’re trying to have enough vision to see what they could be for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As Rooney touches on late in the episode, one major part of this process is dependent upon the psychological player evaluations, which help determine which players have red flags or disposition issues, and if those concerns make said player ‘undraftable’ for the Steelers.

LeBeau also weighed in on the importance of the sit-down interviews in order to get a feel for what type of player you are potentially adding to your football team.

In this instance, the episode features LeBeau meeting with defensive end Stephon Tuitt, whom the Steelers obviously ended up drafting in the second round. In fact, many of the Steelers’ selections came in for pre-draft visits this year.

“That’s always been very helpful, to take the athlete off of the video, if you will, and put him eyeball to eyeball, man to man, and look at him and see if he’s the type of athlete you’re looking for for that role you’re going to want him to fill with your football team”.

As mentioned earlier, nothing revealed in this series has exposed any trade secrets or anything of the sort. But nevertheless, if you’re like me, you still like to hear it laid out succinctly by the individuals actually responsible for the process, so I for one am a fan of this new access.

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