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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert outlines the 2017 NFL Draft crop of edge rushers

Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke to media about this current crop of edge pass rushers entering the 2017 NFL Draft.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There is no questioning the Pittsburgh Steelers need for a pass rusher in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. They are fortunate the current pass rushing class is one of the deepest in recent memory. However, the Steelers have taken a linebacker in the early rounds more than they ever probably wanted, and with their eyes set on another linebacker in 2017, they can’t afford to draft another Jarvis Jones.

With that said, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke with media at the NFL Scouting Combine, and talked specifically about the upcoming class of edge rushers, and what they can bring to the table.

Take a look at the transcript of Colbert’s media session.

Re: On what he looks for in college edge rushers:

The outside linebacker in our defense is probably the most difficult (to find), because 80-90 percent of them don’t play on their feet in college. And we have to try to project whether a guy can stand up and do the extra things beyond pass rushing that he’s going to be required to do in our defense. So the potential for error at the outside linebacker position is really greater than any other position, because most of the time it is a projection. So you’re looking for someone who can rush the passer, can play on a tight end or a tackle and can drop into coverage on occasion. The drop-in-coverage part, a lot of times we won’t see that until—actually when we get in here for the initial workouts, and then follow it up with some pro day advancements, as well.

Re: On if this looks like a deep group from that aspect:

It is. But off the top of my head, 85-90 percent of them are the defensive ends that we’re going to have to project up. So again, as we go through this, we’ll probably lose three, four, or five guys who we’ll just say are probably 4-3 defensive ends instead of 3-4 linebackers.

Re: On how he determines if they can drop into coverage:

You just watch their feet, their hips, their hands, and their awareness when they drop. You’re really not going to get into whether they understand it and know what they’re doing. You’re really just looking at the physical ability to do it. You can transfer—most of them – if they have the athleticism to do it. It’s just a matter of knowledge beyond that repetition.

Re: On when he learns if they can do it:

Usually, when they line up on a Sunday.


The Steelers are going to take a pass rusher in the early rounds of the NFL Draft, no one is denying that, but a lot will depend on other prospects at other positions, mainly cornerback, who are also available at the time.

Nonetheless, it was very interesting to this editor to see Colbert be as candid as he was regarding the evaluation process, the overall lack of knowing how a prospect will pan out and the crap shoot which is the NFL Draft. I think I speak for all Steelers fans when I say I hope the team has figured out their issue with drafting outside linebackers, because they cannot afford another swing-and-miss draft pick.