The Pittsburgh Steelers, and by association Kevin Colbert, know how to draft wide receivers. In fact, over the last decade you could essentially call the Steelers a ‘Wide Receiver Factory’.
Players like Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Martavis Bryant and more have been selected, and blossomed, with the black-and-gold. It has many wondering how the Steelers seem to find these stud receivers almost on an annual basis?
Kevin Colbert shed some light on this situation when he spoke with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. When asked what he looks for in receivers, his answer was simple and concise.
“You want big and fast, the ability to get in and out of a break, the ability to catch the ball in competitive situations, the ability to run after the catch, and the ability to block.” Colbert said. “It’s really not that complicated when you boil it down, and they come in all different sizes and shapes and they have different talents that make them unique among themselves. But there’s really not one specific pattern we look for.”
When pressed further, Colbert was asked if he favors things like hands, or speed, when gauging the receivers he is evaluating.
“You’re always going to start with size and speed, strength and athleticism, and then you look for position specifics beyond that.
“The ability to catch is a huge component of that, but competitive catching ability, the ability to catch when covered or in traffic, because in the NFL you will always be covered and you’ll always be in traffic unless there is a coverage bust. And only certain guys can do that.”
When listening to Colbert, the process of evaluation seems easy. So easy you would think every NFL team would be able to easily pick quality wide receivers like the Steelers. However, when you look at a team like the Baltimore Ravens, some certainly struggle with this process. While the Steelers are drafting a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round, or Antonio Brown in the sixth round, the opposition swings and misses on someone like Breshad Perriman.
It isn’t as if the Steelers haven’t had some flops at the wide receiver selection process, we all remember Limas Sweed, but at the same time the team has experienced far more home runs than strikeouts when it comes to drafting receivers.
Will the team be targeting another receiver in the upcoming draft? Odds are they will, and when some fans rebuke this sentiment, they should remember how the team picked Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft when no one expected it.
If Colbert and company have proven anything, it is they know how to draft the wide receiver position.