I don’t go gaga over the NFL Draft like I used to.
However, it is something to look forward, as it not only infuses many teams—but especially the Steelers—with plenty of young NFL hopefuls, it acts as sort of a gateway to the start of the real football activities.
I’m talking about OTAs, rookie camp, mini-camp and, of course, the greatest camp of all—training camp.
Unfortunately, unless this Coronavirus pandemic takes its foot off the gas and starts to put some of its backups in in the fourth quarter, we’re not going to experience any of the offseason workouts that begin to fill our 24/7 news-cycle in the days and weeks after the draft is completed. And if there are no offseason workouts scheduled for the foreseeable future....
I don’t want to sound like a broken record. In fact, I hate that I’m even typing this article right now, because I can almost picture and predict a comments section filled with more talk of no vaccine, not enough testing and possibly no football in 2020.
Anyway, back to the draft.
What’s your average Steelers rookie going to do now that he likely won’t have anywhere or anyone to physically report to for quite a while? Will he maintain a disciplined lifestyle, even without coaches and veteran teammates to encourage him and demonstrate the Steeler Way?
I’ve heard of the possibility of virtual OTAs, but what would that even entail? It couldn’t include two or more people working out together, not unless the Steelers aren’t worried about the optics of such a thing.
Oh well, at least we still have the draft to look forward to, thanks to virtual technology. And with it will come immediate joy, rage, speculation, analysis, film breakdowns and depth chart predictions.
We’ll have grades to hand out, steals to talk about and reaches to shake our heads over. We’ll have post-draft “winners” and “losers” to discuss, undrafted free agent signees to hype and new candidates for the annual Isaac Redman Award.
We’ll have new players to fall in love with, lukewarm rookies to slowly buy into and shaky recent draft picks to place wake-up calls to. We’ll have highlights to watch on YouTube, rookies to follow on Twitter and suggestions for take-out places they should visit if and when they’re ever allowed to travel to Pittsburgh.
But it could be a while before we can talk about rookies who pick things up right away, youngsters who look like they’re caught in headlights and the veterans who will take both under their wings.
What about Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow, Bud Dupree’s contract and James Conner’s determination to prove the doubters wrong—again?
What about Mike Tomlin’s isms, Kevin Colbert’s thick but endearing Pittsburgh accent and Matt Canada’s role as secret offensive coordinator?
What about those 2021 mock drafts?........I guess I can stop right there; I know they’ll be popping up the second the 2020 NFL Draft concludes.
I just hope 2021 mock drafts aren’t the stars of the 2020 post-draft NFL offseason.