SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: General manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers Kevin Colbert is seen before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
A story from Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times says the Steelers draft board is "98 percent complete" in wake of the first round of the NFL Draft, set for 8 p.m. ET Thursday. The obvious question is which 24 players make the board, and which ones will be at the end of it - in prime position for the Steelers' pick.
Bires includes an interesting statement from Colbert: "Need is not a good word," Colbert said. "It's want. We want players. We don't necessarily need."
To me, that's the right philosophy. Plain and simple, the player a team drafts must be worthy of that spot. I'll exclude quarterback from this equation due to the much higher value of that position on a team's overall success, but since the Steelers will not be drafting a quarterback in the first round, the first determining factor in their selection is the value of the player at No. 24 - assuming they stay there.
It's plain and obvious where a team could use a boost in either depth or starting-caliber talent. That does not mean, though, the position itself becomes more important than the player assuming it.
If they have 24 guys on the board right now, maybe there are three or even four left when they get on the clock. If they evaluate one player as being better than everyone else, then they make that pick. The issue comes in how closely those four players are to each other in their evaluation (which includes injuries, character and other more intangible factors).
If two guys are virtually equal, and stand clearly above the other two, and one's an outside linebacker and the other is an offensive linemen, then they may choose on position, but that's all predicated on his qualifications as a player worthy of the 24th overall pick.
This method is tried and true, and while it may not mean an upgrade at the "positions of need" the fans vote on, it does mean getting the best player available at that position.