When you hear national pundits talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers they often regurgitate the same one-liners over and over again.
“This player just looks like a Steeler.”
“He fits the Steeler mold.”
“The Steelers build through the draft.”
You could probably rattle off several more just off the top of your head, but you clearly get the picture.
Fans often say those same things, but no one truly knows just what goes on inside the Steelers facility unless you are either there, or privy to that knowledge.
I’ve never been either of those aforementioned people, but you never know what, or who, might come into your life to help shine some light on the team you just happen to cover. And that is exactly what recently happened to me when I was introduced to an unbelievably reliable source with knowledge of some of the inner workings of the Steelers.
Some of the “intel” I was given was very general information most fans would be able to recite on their own. Things like how the Steelers are never big spenders in free agency, but how the organization wants to always build through the draft.
But what I didn’t know was how the Steelers play their hand in the draft often depends on the teams surrounding them on the draft board. Of course, the 2023 NFL Draft as an example, knowing what other team’s needs are helps the team make decisions. Everyone and their brother knew the New York Jets wanted a tackle, so the Steelers were able to convince the New England Patriots to trade the 14th pick and allow the Steelers to leap-frog the Jets to take Broderick Jones.
On top of that, the Steelers always bank on some teams just making illogical, or unexpected, picks in the draft. It happens every year, and the Steelers rely on those missteps to allow them to make the necessary moves on the draft. After all, how else would a talented player like Joey Porter Jr. fall to pick No. 32?
Speaking of Joey Porter Jr., when he fell to Round 2, the Steelers weren’t about to let him get away from them. Sure, there were teams who called and made offers, the Las Vegas Raiders 100% made a trade offer to the Steelers for pick No. 32, but the Steelers were worried Porter Jr. could go as early as pick No. 33 if they trade back.
It was a risk they weren’t willing to make, and they stayed at No. 32 and got their guy.
Saying the Steelers are “build different” might seem to be nothing more than a cliché, but it is actually true. Ever wonder if there are coaches pounding tables and arguments happening as the draft unfolds?
The Steelers get all those conversations/debates out of their system well before the draft approaches. Once they all have a chance to speak their minds, have those discussions, they move forward together. No banging of tables. No screaming and yelling. This is the Steelers approach to the draft which is what has made them successful for decades. When the 3-day process begins, everyone is on the same page.
With those little nuggets of information now in your cranium, know that when you tell someone the Steelers are “different” they are, because not every team is constructed this way. Not every team focuses more on the draft than free agency. Not that the Steelers don’t spend money in free agency, but they aren’t big spenders. Not every team has the synergy heading into the draft.
No, the Steelers are actually build different.
(Note: The Letter From the Editor article runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)
This was a main talking point of my “Let’s Ride” podcast on Friday. You can hear that exact show in the player below: