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2024 NFL Draft

Mike Tomlin Makes Impact Felt on NFL Draft Prospects

Mike Tomlin always has his fingerprints over the Steelers pre-draft process, and the Senior Bowl shows that.



Steelers HC Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during practice on Oct. 31, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

If Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is at an NFL Draft-related event, there is a good chance you will see up close and personal. That could be a pro day or the Senior Bowl, but Tomlin is the most hands-on coach in the NFL at these events. At the Senior Bowl, for example, he can commonly be seen talking with prospects. The same goes for pro days that he attends. Just take his presence and impact from Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy.

Nobody gets more out of the Senior Bowl than Mike Tomlin. I think every player leaves Mobile wanting to be a Steeler,” Nagy said.

The latest story from the Senior Bowl about Tomlin’s impact on prospects? It involves Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson (whose hand he shakes in the video above) and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

Before Wednesday’s practice, Wilson got a challenge from Tomlin. Tomlin pulled Wilson and Mitchell aside, two of the most dominant players from day one of the Senior Bowl, and told them to go against each other throughout practice. They did just that, creating a highlight reel play for Wilson.

“I was coming through and Mike Tomlin pulled both of aside and told us to make sure we go against each other,” Wilson said. “We took that a little too serious. We did every single one-on-one rep together. He is very competitive and it was great going against him. As soon as he stepped up at the end of practice, I knew he was going to call me out.”

Wilson and Mitchell both have met with the Steelers multiple times at the Senior Bowl. For Wilson, he has met with them twice. Mitchell’s was an unspecified amount, but it’s clear that the team is continuing their interest from throughout the entire college football season.

But don’t be surprised by Tomlin’s demeanor here. He’s all about relationships and learning about people. Football is the vessel for how he leaves imprints on lives. And the NFL Draft is one of his favorite parts of the job.

“I always do. You know, I am a personnel buff. I don’t think you can be in this profession and not be into personnel, not have knowledge of people that play for you, play against you, particularly at the quarterback position. I enjoy it,” Tomlin said.

His reasoning and enthusiasm for the game are why his peers admire him. Whenever I travel to the NFL Combine or Senior Bowl, it’s impressive how much admiration coaches, scouts, and players give him. Tomlin impacts everyone he meets in the pre-draft process, and his goal is to test their demeanor likely and what makes them tick as a football player.

It does not always provide a perfect hit rate, but Tomlin’s inside look into these prospects is invaluable to Pittsburgh’s scouting process. And it’s why they often dip into the Senior Bowl for guys they draft. But more than that, it’s why they draft their first-round picks from pro days that he attends without fail.