The Steelers pre-draft press conference ,on Kevin Colbert's part at least, was a fairly typical affair, both informative and vague in equal measure. Here are the most salient points.
- Kevin Colbert made it clear that the Steelers organization, or at least himself, still stand behind Mike Adams, whereas Mike Tomlin only made it clear that the Steelers don't not stand behind Mike Adams.
- Colbert spent some time going over the 2014 Free Agency period, saying "it went as well as we could have hoped", and pointing out the unexpected additional cap space as the reason why.
- As previously noted by Neal Coolong, Colbert stated that there was 19 players he would be comfortable with selecting 15th overall. He also reaffirmed his position that this is the deepest draft class he has ever seen in his 30 years in professional football. He went so far as to say picking at 15 this year is like picking at no.7 in a normal year, whilst in the second round they can get a player they would normally have had to pick in the 1st round.
- Any hopes of a legendary trade up the draft board to secure Khalil Mack or the like can, it seems,officially be buried. Colbert said flat out the Steelers won't be seeking to trade up in the draft, partly because of the lack of a 3rd round pick and also presumably because of the depth of the draft class. Unless Colbert is deploying a truly tremendous smokescreen then it appears that option is off the table.
- Colbert, however, did not rule out moving down the board, which remains "a real option". This is obviously not much of a surprise to anyone, especially given the depth of the draft class. Colbert also mentioned that in the instance that a trade down were to occur, that no position would be off the table. This suggests that, first of all, the Steelers are pretty locked in positionally for the 15th pick, or have at least identified the two/three positions they are targeting. Second, if the Steelers can't hit on their position at 15th overall, they have no qualms about moving back and letting the draft come to them so to speak. This shows the confidence in both their own draft board and the talent pool available, as well as the expectation that they will have the option to trade down come draft day.
- Colbert says the Steelers have struggled more than in the past at separating players on their draft board, singling out the cornerback and wide receiver positions in particular as a challenge. Given that these two positions are extremely likely targets for the Steelers through the 7 rounds of the draft, this appears to be a promising sign. That they are struggling to separate prospects suggests there are many which the Steelers would like draft come Thursday, they just need to figure out which one they want the most .Well, That or they're all similarly terrible, which seems unlikely.
Colbert's press conference has me thinking two things. First, the depth of this draft has been talked up to the absolute limit. The expectations at this point are huge, anything less than about 25 HOF'ers will be seen as a disappointment.
That's a little bit of hyperbole, but seriously it seems as though every expert and GM is pegging this to be an extraordinary draft. There isn't a fan out there who isn't thinking this could be the one that sets their team up for a decade. I suppose it's just coincidence then that this draft happens to fall on the 40th anniversary of the greatest draft of all time, one that netted the Steelers four hall of fame players, and set the franchise up for 6 years of dominance.
Second, Kevin Colbert appears a very confident man, not at all some one who is feeling the pressure of two 8-8 seasons in a row. I know no GM ever announces that he is nervous and unsure of the direction in which he wants to go, but the way Colbert almost casually announced that he will not seek to trade up, and that there are nearly 20 players he knows he would draft at 15 suggests a GM who is comfortable in his skin just now.
I don't think he is just putting on a show, I think he is confident enough in the Steelers front office, scouts and evaluation process that he knows he can get quality players all across the board. There's nothing that inspires trust in a fan quite like a self-assured GM to calm the nerves pre-draft.