Colbert’s Selection Of Long Snapper Need Not Be Questioned Moving Forward

While it’s common for fans of NFL teams to question draft selections every year, sometimes it’s worth waiting a little while to pass judgement on the picks after they’re made.

When Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert used a sixth-round selection on former Louisville long snapper Colin Holba during the 2017 NFL Draft, a large portion of the fan base collectively scratched their heads in somewhat disbelief that a pick was used on that position and especially considering that at the time, veteran long snapper Greg Warren, while up there in age, was presumably healthy after being re-signed earlier in the offseason.

After initially being stunned by the Steelers selection of Holba on the sixth-round of the draft, I quickly wondered if Warren was indeed as healthy as I had initially perceived him to be. In fact, I somewhat cracked a joke on Twitter about Warren’s future right after the pick was made, as you can see below.

Despite Colbert claiming that Warren was healthy “right now” almost immediately after Holba was drafted, it was easy for me to keep my trusty tin foil hat well within my reach and especially due to the way the Steelers general manager addressed the question related to the topic. On Thursday, the Steelers release of Warren with a failed physical designation now makes it very clear that the team had concerns about his health and immediate playing future ahead of the draft taking place.

As the late, great Paul Harvey always used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Even a few days after the selection of Holba, Colbert gave a few hints that Warren’s time in Pittsburgh could be coming to an end sooner rather than later during an interview on 93.7 The Fan.

“Yes, yes,” Colbert said when asked if Warren is indeed healthy. “And again, he’s 35 years old. It’s no secret he’s in a declining state as we all are as we get older. So, you always worry about players hitting the wall. We talk about it all the time and not that you can predict that, but it is more predictable when guys are older. So, if you have a chance to add a guy, you really have to do it.”

Perhaps Colbert really did think that Warren might ultimately be able to make it one more season and maybe come draft time the organization was still waiting for the veteran to get a second or third opinion on whatever may or may not have been ailing him. Regardless, there had to be some level of uncertainty regarding Warren’s immediate future and because of that, the decision was made to draft Holba just in case. That proactive move, if indeed that’s what it was, turned out to be a solid one as we sit here in the middle of May.

While Colbert could have rolled the dice that Holba, who was regarded as the best long snapper in this year’s draft class, may have slid to them a round later, it obviously wasn’t worth the risk in his eyes. Besides, and as Colbert pointed out right after this year’s draft concluded, most of the time players who are drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds fail to make the 53-man roster out of training camp regardless of the position that they play.

“We have drafted guys in the sixth and seventh rounds that don’t make the team and maybe they are practice squad types,” Colbert explained at the time. “So, the competition will be there. If he [Holba] makes it, he makes it. If not, I don’t know if we would have a guy on the practice squad, but we certainly just wanted to have that option. As these guys come along, there aren’t too many draftable long snappers.”

Warren’s statement following his Thursday release also adds a little more clarity to the situation.

“I had full intentions of playing this upcoming season, but in light of new information I’ve recently received from my doctors relating to a past injury, it has been determined that trying to compete in the 2017 season may be a risk to my long-term health,” Warren said.

For now, Holba is slated to be Warren’s immediate replacement and hopefully we talk about him moving forward as often as we did Warren over the course of the last 12 seasons, which wasn’t a lot. Whether that’s ultimately the case is really insignificant at this point, in my honest opinion.

Draft picks, especially late-round ones, are made with the idea that the selected players can cheaply fill immediate or future needs of a team. Colbert’s selection of Holba did just that and from this point forward his drafting need not be criticized even if he fails miserably at succeeding Warren and especially being as we all now know “the rest of the story.”

Colbert put it best a few weeks ago during the aforementioned radio interview when asked about the criticism he’s received from fans concerning him spending a sixth-round draft pick on Holba.

“Those same people that are asking, I hope they remember that if we’re lining up for a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl and we want to never take that snap for granted,” Colbert said.

It’s obvious right now that Colbert doesn’t take such a snap for granted.

  • S.T.

    All long snapper talk, all the time.

  • Jose F Bilbao

    This is confirmation that we cannot judge Colbert & Tomlin’s draft choices from the outside, as they have much more info than we do.
    The worrying part of this is that they might also have drafted Dobbs because they know something we don’t. Maybe it’s time to take Roethlisberger’s year end comments seriously: even if the front office believes that the most likely scenario is that he will finish his contract, just the possibility of early retirement would force them to take some action. Hence another draft pick with a clear rationale. (Yes, you could argue that they could have waited until next year as Roethlisberger will certainly by playing this season, but you don’t want to draft a quarterback to start playing inmediately with no knowledge of the system: having Jones & Dobbs would provide a stopgap until a replacement is ready. Although that is probably not going to be fun to watch).

  • Steeldog22

    Armchair GMs do not know more about the team, individual players, or draft picks than Colbert and Co., regardless of the amount of time spent on this site or the amount of tape they have claimed to have watched. Period.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are important legal and financial clauses in these player contracts concerning injury. Sometimes players have personal insurance policies as well, that are affected by the contract and team medical evaluations. So GM’s often have to wait until after certain time deadlines or medical evaluations/physicals to cut or sign a player (even though they may know all along what they’re going to do).

    Colbert kind of makes me laugh sometimes because I believe he is a genuine honest guy who would prefer to answer questions straight forwardly, but who is in a job that requires him to be coy. So when he drafts Holba and a reporter asks him if Warren is healthy he replies, “Uh… Yeah… I mean… Uh… right now he is…” I think we all know what he means.

    And when Warren says, “I had full intentions of playing this upcoming season, but in light of new information I’ve recently received from my doctors relating to a past injury, it has been determined that trying to compete in the 2017 season may be a risk to my long-term health.” I think we all know there are lawyers and financial planners that are involved with the crafting of those statements.

    The truth is… (I believe)… Colbert knew all along that Warren wasn’t going to be healthy to play this year. He had a choice between trying out a bunch of street free agent long snappers in training camp, or drafting a highly rated guy who had long term potential to start for 5-10 years. And he chose the latter.

  • NCSteel

    and immediately, he has the biggest impact among rookies

  • falconsaftey43

    Just something to consider, of the 40 players taken last year after the 213th pick, 12 didn’t make the week 1 roster.

  • Boss

    Hey Dave. Can we now get a long-snap by long-snap review of Colin Holba’s college career??
    4th and 15…snap to the punter…3 inches to the left…etc

  • WilliamSekinger

    No doubt. Colbert is now practically guaranteed to get his 1-4 + 6th round picks on the 53 man roster.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    And that is what I argued from the very beginning. We fans don’t know what was said between Ben and Colbert and the Rooneys. But THEY do. And THEY started interviewing every college QB in sight. So THEY know a lot of things that we still don’t.

    And then they went out and drafted a “luxury” WR in the 2nd round. And then they drafted (possibly over drafted) the one specific RB that Ben specifically requested. And then they drafted (possibly overdraft) a QB that was not a threat to replace him immediately, or that would send any kind of negative signal to Ben. In my opinion, this draft was an attempt to appease our franchise QB and get him to stay 2 more years instead of just 1 more year.

    Having said all that, just because Colbert knows more than we do, doesn’t exempt him from making mistakes in drafting. I think he did a rather poor job of “negotiating” the draft board this year. You want to take Watt at 1.30?… That’s fine… But at least LISTEN to the trade offers first. You might be able to score an extra mid round pick to address our needs AND still get Ben the weapons he wants.

    Or use the extra pick to overdraft a long snapper in the 5th round instead of the 6th round. 🙂

  • MintDragon

    Love the Paul Harvey reference. Good Day.

  • RickM

    And that’s why Colbert picked Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Because they know far more than any fan could ever know.

    I give the FO full credit for filling a need given Warren’s health situation. But unlike you, I am not remotely troubled by fans who express their opinions about draft picks. I can’t imagine anything more boring that a constant stream of ‘wasn’t that great’ comments. Like a pick or don’t like a pick…fans should never be stifled because ‘the team always knows better’. In this instance, Colbert had additional information and made a wise selection. Full marks to him. In the Jarvis Jones’ instance, he did not know more than some fans (not me) who opposed the pick.

  • Justin B

    I reserve the right to question if he would have been available in round 7, versus a 6th round pick!

  • Boss

    Hey Dave. Can we now get a long-snap by long-snap review of Colin Holba’s college career??
    4th and 15…snap to the punter…3 inches to the left…etc

  • ilamarca

    Not sure if you were being sarcastic but your second paragraph conflicts with your first. Maybe Colbert knows something about MB suspension or Sammie Coates hand that we don’t, or maybe he knows something about Lev Bells contract negotiations or hamstring that we don’t. Or maybe the scouts just had those 2 as the highest rated players of any position remaining.

    Saying they were trying to appease Ben is like saying they drafted Holba to compete with Warren. It may have appeared that way on the surface but now we know it was something more.

  • “WC”

    Gotta give credit where credit is due! You called it! great job…….

  • Dorian James

    Do You think they’ll re sign that other Long Snapper for competitions sake?

  • Luis Grove

    Well, well, looks like Colbert knows what he is doing after all..,you yinzers you

  • colingrant

    I learned years ago to reserve judgement for months or even a year or two in some cases regarding Steeler player acquisitions and purges. Their track record is a long standing one, not of perfection, but of sound judgement, which frequently leads to success. Sounds simple, but many organizational decisions are made with instability at the coaching and front office level, which compromises sound decision making. Villaneauva is an example of a staff unconcerned with emotional decision making at the ownership level.

  • VaDave

    Great post!

  • Kevin Artis

    Why not? Spending a “draft pick” on a LS when you have other pressing needs is still a questionable choice. LSs are found on the street all the time. Example our last two we signed. Warren and Shieck(sp). And we still don’t know if he makes the roster. He might can’t handle of the pressure of being a rookie long snapper at the NFL level.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    You make a very good point. We don’t know all the details about Bryant or Bell. And we will have to wait and see what happens with contract extensions and roster cuts to get the whole story. But we do know which statements Ben has made has made. That is undisputed.

    Ben said, “If I even play this year at all.” He was quoted (by an anonymous source) to say he told the Steelers brass to “get him some help.” And Ben also told us after the draft that he campaigned “hard” for Conner. So (IMO) it is far more likely that these picks were to appease him than some mysterious problem with Bell or Bryant.

    My point was… Colbert didn’t “negotiate” the draft very well this year.

    If you want a WR for Ben, or Bryant is going to be out, that’s fine, trade down and draft Chris Godwin in the mid-3rd.

    If you want a RB to replace Bell, that’s fine, but (IMO) Perine was the better choice.

    If you want a back up for Ben, that’s fine, but (IMO) Nate Peterman was the better choice, and we could’ve traded down into the mid 5th and gotten him.

    If you want a long snapper, that’s fine, but the 6th round appears to be a bit early.

    None of our picks from round 2-7 picks appear to be “steals” as far as value.

    On a side note. Colbert drafted Coats to be the “replacement” or “insurance” for Bryant. So what does that mean about the Coates draft choice if he drafted another WR in the 2nd round this year?

    To me, there will have to be a TON of new surprising information coming forward to make Colbert’s draft logic make sense. Just my opinion.

  • ABdropkick

    Exactly this.

  • Rob

    Just released Ladarius Green…

  • Matthew Marczi

    You don’t address pressing needs in the sixth round. And a long snapper is more likely to make the team than are other positions.

  • stan

    I can’t believe the Holba* defenders’ rush to say they are right based on this. Did you all seriously not realize there was something wrong with Warren when Holba was drafted? Did you all seriously not realize that the issue was drafting a guy when you could have gotten him for free (or with $50K of UDFA bonus at most)?
    *Like all of us, I hope Holba has a tremendous career with the Steelers. The issue is how we acquired him, not whether he’s good.

  • MintDragon

    Hope they bring in competition during camp, but let the kid learn/bond during OAT and minicamp. Maybe, Warren can be paid to coach him at camp?

  • Dorian James

    I don’t see why not.

  • Amante Da Prez

    I think it’s way too early to say Colbert didn’t negotiate the draft very well. The steelers addressed every need that they had going into draft with the exception of tight end. Lets at least wait until after the season before we declare Perrine and Godwin as better picks in a lower round lol. Navigating the draft based on value can be dangerous, I’d rather draft the player I believe in, if the player succeeds who cares if it was a reach. I may have picked “different” players but I can’t argue with the logic. The steelers were in desperate need of competition and leadership. Preseason games don’t mean anything, but when you constantly lose them I start to wonder who is really challenging the starters in practice?

  • Shane Mitchell

    I cant question the selection, but I can question all the BS he spewed about why we made the selection in the first place, I would rather he say “no comment” than to lie his ass off in the post draft press conference.

  • toonasteel

    I only wish that they used this sound logic with the TE position. If they had (and they did) any inkling that L. Green was still unfit for playing, they should have drafted a TE. This long snapper would have been available as an UDFA. Front office fail.

  • Bryan Ischo

    You are confusing knowledge with hindsight.

  • TsarPepe

    More precisely, at the end of the sixth round, which is basically the seventh…

  • WARisHELL- DuDu Shits-Poopster

    Now we can question why he didn’t draft a TE instead of why he drafted a LS.

  • Grant Russell

    maybe Colbert should have been drafting a tight end instead of a long snapper!!!

  • capehouse

    But now there’s some serious questions about not addressing the TE position. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

  • ND_Steel

    Any belief this is about Warren’s salary and to a lesser extent his age, and not about his health? A pre-existing injury? And he comes out saying his intent was to play this year? Sounds like he was talked out…or pushed out. We draft a LS and then following the draft he’s hurt? Is there a financial slant in Warren’s favor for being released/injured (vs competing for his job)? Odd timing in that they released their third Long Snapper so now it is Holba or bust…

  • ND_Steel


  • ND_Steel

    Couldn’t agree more! As much as I enjoyed the Paul Harvey reference, I don’t think we’ll ever be privy to the rest of the story on this one.

  • Mike Frantz

    It’s entirely possible they were waiting on test results, or a second opinion and the Steelers, being a classy organization gave Warren the time to make an informed choice. They had to be careful with the wording because nothing was conclusive yet. I’m with you. I think Colbert is an honorable person trying to do the right thing.

  • Gautama Om

    Besides Dobbs situational stats that we may not know there is also the fact that he played behind one of the worst college OL’s and despite that he managed to improve late in their season.

    It may be insignificant info to many but even the best QB’s like Brady will be significantly by poor protection. Thus the reason why many NFL teams spend tons of resources, including high draft picks to protect their QB , obviously. So it should be obvious that a poor OL would affect Dobbs significantly as well.

  • Gautama Om

    Maybe they had a specific plan with specific players in mind and did not want to trade down for fear of losing that player. I strongly believe this was the case with Watt. They were eyeballing him and if he was there they knew they had to take him or else most likely lose him by moving down a few spots.

    Now if their pick came and there were SEVERAL candidates worthy of a 1st round pick left then they most likely would have traded down for extra picks. I think they made the right decision because after Watt I didn’t think there were any other players that were picked in the 2nd round that was worthy of a 1st round pick.

  • Jason McDonald

    Since Colbert has become the GM the Steelers FO has the 3rd best % of players drafted make the pro bowl of any FO in the NFL behind NE and SEA. There is obviously no perfect way to grade a FO but thats a good indicator. Colbert and Co do a very good job overall and I am glad to have em in the ‘Burgh