So, I was on Twitter the other day, basking in the glow of my just-published article about Tyler Linderbaum, the fine center from Iowa, and how he could possibly be a too-good-to-be-true prospect for the Steelers to pass on if he were still available at pick number 20.
Why did I write such an article? I mainly did so as a follow-up to a previous piece about how free-agent activity should never prevent the Steelers from continuing to address an area of need in the draft.
I mean, I was talking about Linderbaum, a Steelers fan favorite and draft crush. Kudos to me, right?
Not according to Twitter:
“MT AND KC DID NOT, I REPEAT, DID NOT ATTEND HIS PRO DAY. HE WILL NOT, AND I REPEAT AGAIN BECAUSE YOUR INEPT CLICK BAIT PISSES ME OFF, WE WILL NOT BE DRAFTING HIM AT 20.”
Holy wow. Now, in case you could not decipher that Tweet, the person was referring to the Steelers' ironclad policy of not drafting a player whose Pro Day they did not attend; because of that ironclad policy, the Tweeter was admonishing me for even entertaining such a notion. (You know, as opposed to all of those other pre-draft articles that aren’t speculative?)
By the way, is it “Pro Day” or “pro day”?
Speaking of digressions, I really wish someone would start a workshop on clickbait content and educate people on what it actually is. But until that happens, let me try to do that right here: “Join me tonight on my podcast, as my surprise and very-special guest will be a legendary former Steelers center!” Now, if I followed up that tease by interviewing Justin Hartwig (no offense to him), that would be a form of clickbait. However, a writer from Crafton, someone with no actual drafting power, publishing an opinion piece on who he thinks the Steelers might select in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft—and actually naming him in the title—is not clickbait.
Anyway, back to my regularly-scheduled program about the Steelers and their ironclad policy on only drafting players whose Pro Days they attend.
I guess it’s a thing. How far back does this “No Pro Day visit, no draft for you!” policy go? From the limited research I’ve done (and, can you believe this wasn’t an easy thing to find?), the Steelers haven’t selected a player whose Pro Day they didn’t attend since maybe 2010?
If that is the stretch—and I’m not even sure if that policy is limited to the first few rounds of a draft or the entire class—can that really be looked at as a forever thing? If so, why? Also, would this supposed unspoken policy prevent the team from selecting a good player, such as Linderbaum, if he fell into their laps at 20? And not just him, what about those Ohio State receivers whose Pro Days the Steelers did not attend a while back—Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave? You mean to tell me those guys are automatically off the list? You might be thinking, “Hey, Tony, those receivers are so highly-rated, there is no way they’ll even be there!” True, but you can say the same thing about Linderbaum.
So you’re saying the Steelers are so cocksure of their own abilities to analyze and evaluate players, they would ignore years of game tape, as well as the informed opinions of countless non-Steelers scouts, general managers and coaches around the NFL?
That doesn’t sound too smart to me.
If I’m understanding this policy correctly, it’s perfectly fine to speculate on the possibility of the Steelers drafting Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, whose Pro Day they actually attended. Fine. But what about that whole thing about Willis almost surely being drafted well before the 20th pick?
The Steelers would likely have to trade up into the top 10 in order to take Willis, and as you know, they never do anything like that. Being that aggressive goes against the Steelers' rather conservative and pragmatic approach to the draft, same thing with their unwillingness to trade future first-round picks in order to acquire the services of current NFL players.
And don’t even get me started on the Steelers’ long-standing policy of not giving their star players guaranteed money beyond the first year of a contract.
Come to think of it, maybe I should just take Tyler Linderbaum’s name off of my draft board altogether.
If the Steelers Pro Day visit policy is any indication, they’ve likely already done that, themselves.