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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert speaks about drafting players with troubled pasts

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With the possibility of drafting a player with a troubled past, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert discussed how he has dealt with those types of situations.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers may be in a tough spot when it's their turn to draft on Thursday night.

Several first round prospects the Steelers may consider drafting come with caution signs. Among them are cornerback Marcus Peters, former Nebraska outside linebacker Randy Gregory, and Missouri linebacker Shane Ray. Gregory tested positive for marijuana before the NFL Scouting Combine and Ray was recently cited for possession of marijuana Monday morning. All the while Peters was dismissed from the Washington football program for behavior detrimental to the team.

Pittsburgh General Manager Kevin Colbert recently spoke with Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about how he handles the prospect of drafting players with these type of checkered backgrounds.

"You try to find out what the exact circumstance was," Colbert said in the interview. "Why a guy was suspended. Why a guy tested positive. Why a guy got thrown off a team. I think you always look into it. You just can’t take the public part of it and think this is it. There’s a story behind everything that goes on — right, wrong or indifferent. It’s our job to get to the root of the matter and figure out whether we want to take the chance or not."

Perhaps one of Colbert's most mixed character draft picks was former Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes. Colbert moved up in the 2006 Draft to land Holmes after his sterling career with at Ohio State. Colbert decided to take a chance on Holmes despite his murky past that included selling drugs in his adolescence.

While he developed as a lethal offensive weapon as both a No.1 receiver and kick returner while being named MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes was never able to get his personal life in order during his time with the Steelers. He was arrested twice less than three months after getting drafted by Pittsburgh, the first time for disorderly conduct and a second time for domestic violence. A marijuana arrest in 2008 and two more legal incidences in 2010 led to his release from the Steelers in 2010.

More often than not, however, Colbert has had success drafting high-profile players that ultimately turned into quality members of the Steelers both on and off the field that include 2003 first round draft pick Troy Polamalu, 2005 first round selection Heath Miller, and 2007 pick Lawrence Timmons, among others. Whether Colbert and the Steelers' front office decide to stick with character players will be on display Thursday with the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.