There's a reason the Steelers have had a history of finding value in the NFL Draft; their scouts put in work.
While 40-yard dashes and vertical leaps are attractive attributes that can serve to increase the viability of a prospect, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert trusts his staff of scouts and uses the Scouting Combine to confirm what his scouts already know, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"The amount of work that the scouts did throughout the fall really sets the table for the Combine," Colbert said. "The Combine just verifies a lot of that information from a physical standpoint (and) a workout standpoint."
Antonio Brown, for example, was a sixth round draft pick who turned into one of the best receivers in the NFL in four seasons. Brown's work ethic, football I.Q. and extraordinarily high motor aren't attributes that show up during the cone drill; they are factors that are determined based on rigorous scouting procedures.
Even as over 300 prospects seek to earn the approval of hundreds of NFL personnel to achieve their lifelong dream, Colbert probably already has a good idea of who he hopes to select. A good or bad workout won't make or break a player's draft stock in the eyes of Colbert, with the Combine serving a complementary role in the evaluation process rather than the definitive purpose.
"I learned that a long time ago," Colbert said. "If you don't like the guy as a player and he works out good, you just know that he works out good. If you like a guy and he doesn't work out good, then you should probably still like him."
Colbert is especially fond of the interview process, as the Pittsburgh general manager is able to gauge character issues and get a feel for the type of man a potential player might be. With a premium on faster, stronger, more athletic players, the Steelers seem set on allowing their scouts to do their jobs; pouring over game film, examining nuances in players' games and judging on-field performance.
Although certain areas of the Steelers' roster may have some rough edges, they hasn't had a losing season since 2003, meaning the team hasn't been granted the opportunity to add blue-chip prospects usually found in the top of the draft. Instead, Colbert has found gems hidden in later rounds, like Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and Brown, which help contribute and serve as part of the team's nucleus. Success breeds success, and the Steelers will look to continue doing what works.