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Mike Tomlin’s comments point to the Steelers taking a Best Player Available approach in the NFL Draft

Answering questions in a virtual press conferences with local Pittsburgh media, Coach Tomlin discussed team needs going into the NFL draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

After reviewing various Mike Tomlin press conferences each Tuesday this offseason, we are finally graced with new statements from the Steelers’ head coach. In a virtual press conference on Monday with local Pittsburgh media, Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert each gave a statement about the upcoming draft before answering questions.

One of the first questions Coach Tomlin was asked was about the specific needs the Steelers have for the 2020 draft in order to fill out their current roster.

“We have some positional needs, no doubt,” Tomlin admitted. “But as we always do, we’re going to let the development do our work for us. We put a lot of effort into this development and there are a lot of good players on both sides of the ball.”

If reading between the lines of what Coach Tomlin was saying, rather than address a specific position which is the Steelers greatest need they would be in much better shape by taking a high-quality player when it comes time to make their selection. By taking a “best player available” approach, the Steelers are looking to maximize the draft as much as possible.

Although Coach Tomlin is depending heavily on the development he spoke of, he made sure to outline how the team can use quality players regardless of position.

“We can utilize good players on both sides of the ball and in special teams,” Tomlin continued. “We’re going to come out of this thing with the guys that we need, no doubt. Our shared history together gives me that comfort. We’ll get our needs addressed on offense, defense, and special teams.”

When mentioning their shared history together, Tomlin is referring to 2020 being the 14th draft in which he and General Manager Kevin Colbert will be working together. One of the biggest assets the Steelers have in their draft preparation this year is a familiarity between the coach and general manager which has been in place for over a decade.

As the press conference moved on, both Coach Tomlin and Mr. Colbert were asked about addressing the running back position in the upcoming draft. With the Steelers struggling to run the ball in 2019, Coach Tomlin addressed what’s the draft could bring for the Steelers when it comes to rushing more effectively in 2020.

“Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve got a lot of needs,” Tomlin reiterated. “There are some top-quality backs in this draft that could help us. There are some awesome other positional guys that could help us. We’ll let the development do the work for us. If we get an opportunity to add a back that can bring some things to our current pool, then we’ll be excited about that. We have every intention of running the ball better in 2020 then we did in 2019, whether we add that back or no. That’s just being bluntly honest.”

General Manager Kevin Colbert went on to add his thoughts of the Steelers already having a top-quality running back in James Conner when he is healthy. Colbert brought up the fact that when Conner was mostly healthy in 2018, he was a Pro Bowl running back. Knowing that the Steelers have Conner, they feel they have legitimate a starter going into the 2020 season.

Whether it be running back or some other position on either side of the ball, the Steelers are intent on getting a high-quality player whenever they get around to their selection on the second day of the draft. While many in the media, both local and national, along with fans throughout Steeler Nation think they may know which position would benefit the Steelers the most, trusting the teams pre-draft evaluation and getting the best play-maker is the most important thing the Steelers can do to help the team in 2020 and beyond.