After three months of silence except for a brief Q&A ahead of the league meetings almost a month ago, Steelers fans were finally able to hear from head coach Mike Tomlin ahead of the 2022 NFL draft. Alongside Tomlin was Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert who both gave opening remarks before taking questions. Based on the questions, the “Players Mentioned” article is able to make a brief return! In order to have enough “players” I expanded the names highlighted to any members of the Steelers’ either past or present. Remember these are players mentioned in response to specific questions during the Q&A period. Whether it was Mike Tomlin or Kevin Colbert speaking will be noted.
The Steelers are still mourning the tragic loss of quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Coach Tomlin was asked if the tragedy has affected their outlook at the position in the upcoming draft.
Tomlin: “In regard to Dwayne, our energy has been on paying proper respect and supporting his family. We have not approached it from a business decision or a business decision-making standpoint. We feel like that’s the appropriate mindset for us to have as we sit here today.”
At the owners meeting, Kevin Colbert said the Steelers had capable starters at every position on the team other than strong safety. Colbert was asked how the team and Terrell Edmunds were able to come together on a contract to bring him back and if it affects their thoughts about drafting a safety this year.
Colbert: “We were open and honest with Terrell throughout the whole process, as he was with us. We were able to stay connected and see where it all went. We didn’t know where the market would be; he didn’t. We always encourage our free agents to look, it’s going to better serve you to go out and find out what else is there. And that’s part of the decision-making. Understand that we are doing the same thing on our side. Fortunately, he’s coming back to us, and he gives us that 22nd starter, so to speak. And when we say that, you know, I want to emphasize, we are not saying we’re good enough, we’re saying we have NFL veteran starters at each position. And the Draft process will provide great competition for that, but it isn’t like any of these young men that we drafted will come in and be ordained a starter. I know Coach doesn’t do that ordinarily, but when you don’t have great depth or what you believe to be a starter, sometimes those guys have to play a little quicker than possible — or than desirable, and we like to avoid that. Again, to Coach’s other point on the free agency, anything we did in free agency is not going to preclude us from drafting a player at that position.”
Benny Snell Jr. & Anthony McFarland Jr.
One position in which the backup role could possibly need an upgrade is running back. Coach Tomlin was asked about expectations for Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland for this year and if they need to add more players to the group.
Tomlin: “Both capable young guys. Their resumes speak for themselves. Benny has been capable as a backup runner, has been capable as a [special] teamer. McFarland less so, less availability there. But they will define their roles with how they perform and obviously how they perform against competition, competition that’s here and maybe competition that’s not here.”
Many people in Steelers’ Nation are still wondering about the availability of Stephon Tuitt for the 2022 season. Coach Tomlin was asked if there was any further clarity in regards to Tuitt.
Tomlin: “No. No updates, but he’s doing well.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question specifically asking about last week’s voluntary workouts.
Tomlin: “No updates.”
Troy Polamalu, Santonio Holmes & Casey Hampton
One possibility going into the 2022 NFL draft is if the Steelers could trade up or down at various spots. Kevin Colbert was asked how many opportunities the Steelers have had to trade up or down over the years. In his response, Colbert mentioned both the two players the Steelers traded up for and the one player they got when trading down during his time as general manager.
Colbert: “That’s a lot to try to recall.”
Mike Tomlin: “Every year.”
Colbert: “When we go into it, we will have touched base with every team above us, below us; hey, they are interested in moving up, they are interested in coming down. We’ll guesstimate what it will cost to move from 20 to 7 and then from 20 back down to 32, and you’re always making those assessments. But we can always say what we gave up for Troy (Polamalu) , a 3 and a 6, to move up more spots. Then we gave up to move for Santonio (Holmes), we gave up a 3 and a 4, and I forget how many spots we moved, maybe four, but in those of those endeavors, both those moves helped us win a Super Bowl. That’s why we never will lock ourselves into — they have got draft charts with the numbers, and this is a good deal and not a good deal. I think you can determine all that only after the fact. So, we will be knowledgeable of what it will cost, and we will decide as it unfolds. I never want to trade for a specific spot without knowing a specific player, or if you go back to Casey Hampton, when we traded back, we traded back three spots, we had three people, Casey included, who was the top of those three that we would have felt good about. So, we are always making those decisions, but it’s never black and white
Brett Keisel & Heath Miller
There was a lot of focus on this being the last draft for general manager Kevin Colbert. Colbert was asked about if he had any particular draft that was his favorite. In his response, he outlined how different players were good draft picks from various spots, giving the example of Brett Kiesel in the seventh round and Heath Miller in the first.
Colbert: “Not really. I mean, again, obviously the ones that helped you win Super Bowls, those, but I can’t say which part of which one because different guys came out of different drafts. I mean, Brett Keisel was a seventh rounder, Heath Miller was a first. I can’t really say there’s one specific one. There’s too many to look back on. And maybe there’s not enough to look back on, too, because Coach and I are never going to be satisfied with what our results were or are to this point. I hope this one’s the best one.”
Emmanuel Sanders & Antonio Brown
Whenever the Steelers are trading away draft picks, often times they think about the potential of what they could be giving up by not making a selection. Kevin Colbert was asked if he had a grasp on what teams would be doing in front of them, and his response he specifically talked about players he equated with certain round draft picks.
Colbert: “Honestly, no. And again, we did away with mocking other teams probably...”
Colbert: “Twelve years ago? We just said, I don’t know why we do this. We are just guessing. And it doesn’t matter. We mock ourselves. We’re picking first who we take and we’re picking — that player is gone, we’re picking second, who are we taking. We go all the way down to 20 and we have guys lined up in the fashion that we will pick them, and then we will decide if we want to trade up or trade down. And that’s based on that earlier why question; there’s values to doing that. Again, when we trade away a third and a sixth, are we trading away Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown? We don’t know. But we always try to put a player to that scenario. So, no, we don’t concern ourselves with anybody but else but ourselves. I know there’s 20 players. By Wednesday, we’ll know the order and we’ll pick them, and we’ll know who may or may not be interested in moving up or coming down, and we’ll try to make the decisions as best we can.”
For a full recap of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert’s press conference, check out our podcast recap below:
The entire press conference can be seen here: (note: there is no audio for the first 3.5 minutes)