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Mike Tomlin recognizes the challenges of acclimating the Steelers 2020 draft class

In his post draft comments, Tomlin discussed various issues making the 2020 draft process and beyond different from previous years

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Following the 2020 NFL draft on Saturday, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert held a media session online with local Pittsburgh reporters. While they did address questions about specific players, Tomlin also gave a statement about the overall draft process and gave praise to those working hard for the Steelers organization.

“I would just like to compliment Kevin and the scouting department on a job well done amidst some unusual circumstances, unusual for all globally, but I was really comfortable throughout this weekend, and I think that’s how you judge your preparedness, your level of comfort in terms of your ability to execute throughout the draft, and it was a good weekend for us. We’re excited about the young men that we were able to acquire, and now it’s our job as a coaching staff to get these guys assimilated into the program, and not only them but all of our guys as we get into the virtual off-season starting on Monday, and we’re excited about that.”

Tomlin was immediately asked about the difficult task of getting their rookie draft picks assimilated to the team and ready for the 2020 season under the current circumstances.

“You know, it’s going to be challenging,” Tomlin replied. “But you know my mentality; it’s going to be challenging for everyone globally, so from that standpoint it’s fair.”

Although implementing new players into a system is going to be fair across-the-board in the NFL, the Steelers not having a first-round selection in 2020 may actually have the situation play to their advantage. With Minkah Fitzpatrick technically being the Steelers first-round pick, he already has 14 games with the Steelers and 32 in the NFL. As other teams hope to get their rookies involved as much as possible when teams can once again assemble, the whirlwind for rookies will not be what it once was and may have consequences. Not having to rely heavily on top draft picks, in particular this season, could fall right into the Steelers hands.

Coach Tomlin continued on in discussing how it would be possible to get their rookies up to speed.

“It’s our job to be innovative and forward in our thinking in terms of utilizing all the tools and technology at our resources to get to know them so that they get to know us so that we can begin the giving and the receiving of information that’s associated with them getting started. We’re excited about it.”

Having a completely different process in acclimating players moving forward, Tomlin was also asked about the process of gathering information about players prior to the draft. With the Steelers’ new quarterback coach Matt Canada being the interim head coach at the University of Maryland in 2018, Tomlin was asked if Canada’s experience with other players helped to have some inside information.

“You know, we have inside information on a lot of our picks in most years,” Tomlin confessed. “You can draw the parallels because of the relationships and make a story out of these two, but the reality is we work our tails off to gather intel on everyone that we select, and this one is just probably more obvious from an outside standpoint, Matt’s experience with those guys in that program obviously was an asset to us, but we have a lot of information come to us in a lot of ways in most selections that we make that add to our comfort.”

One other aspect of the two draft picks out of the University of Maryland and which Tomlin did not address was the fact his son Dino Tomlin played wide receiver for the Terrapins in 2019. With Tomlin taking note of his son’s games, it was much easier to notice the talent on the field as the team was one in which Tomlin himself was following.

In all, the draft process, along with the post draft activities the Steelers are used to holding, are quite different for 2020. With players not being instantly flown into town and given a tour of the facilities, teams are doing their best to get to know their new draft picks. And as virtual OTA‘s get underway, the Steelers will do their best to have their rookies jump on the moving train that is life in the NFL.