Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert took the stand on Monday for a pre-draft press conference, where he shared his outlook on this year's draft class.
According to Colbert, the Steelers have identified the number of elite prospects in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft at between six and eight players. While he did not name the players individually, Colbert believes every team holds the same players in the same esteem.
That’s usually a group I think everybody can identify and say, "These kids should be special players, be it with us or be it with somebody else."
While some Steelers fans unashamedly question the team's drafting protocols, few can truly argue Colbert's legitimacy as a talent evaluator. His club has won two of three possible Super Bowl championships in the past decade, and those rosters were built primarily through the league's amateur draft. The Steelers sign other team's free-agents about as often as they change coaches.
The Steelers will select 17th when the first round begins Thursday evening. Considering Colbert's estimate of eight elite players available, it is unlikely the team will be able to snatch on of those players with their current position. Because these elite talents are envied by almost all NFL teams, the chance of Pittsburgh landing one at their position is next to nil. However, it also means the team is unlikely to trade up to grab one.
“I doubt that we move up. I think the more picks we have the better, in this draft particularly. But there will be a good player at 17, there’s no question about that.”
Even though Colbert believes there is a limited supply of guaranteed future stars, he does see the draft class, as a whole, as rather deep. According to Colbert, the Steelers feel about 150 of the eligible draftees are worthy of being drafted; and starters will be found in all rounds of the draft.
Unfortunately, he did identify the rookie pool's shallow ends - interior offensive linemen, tight ends and 3-4 defensive ends. With 14 teams utilizing the 3-4 defense, the Steelers are finding slim pickings in the DE department. Gone are the days of the team finding an Aaron Smith in the latter rounds. Now, teams are climbing over each other to snatch up qualified candidates.
Like any good GM would, Colbert did not say who or what position the team would be addressing with their first pick; and the Steelers have plenty of room for improvement. However, Steelers fans already know who Colbert will take.
Colbert will pick the same guy he picks in every round of every draft since he's been in Pittsburgh - the best player available.