PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have not kept it a secret that they have interest in drafting a quarterback.
Between the pre-draft visits, Combine interviews, pro-day travel, and their large presence at the Senior Bowl, it made sense that they would heavily dive into the quarterback market. That has become even more clear than ever. Speaking with the media on Monday, Tomlin and Colbert felt great about their in-depth quarterback preparation.
With so much work that they have put into the quarterbacks in this class, it is no surprise that the Steelers feel great about what they could do with that group. It remains to be seen if they will draft a quarterback, however, they most certainly have prepared for any and every scenario with the quarterbacks over the pre-draft process.
“When we look at a position, we look at it as thoroughly as possible,” Colbert said. “We had a quarterback like Ben for so many years, we knew that wasn’t going to be a preference, so you didn’t spend as much time with that position that high in the draft because you weren’t going to entertain it. We did spend more time on that position. It was necessary and it was a good process. The Senior Bowl, the exposure that myself and the scouts had in the fall, we scouted with that intent. We saw them in games live, the Senior Bowl, the pro days, the visits, all of that was just trying to wrap it up.”
For Colbert and the scouts, there is an urgency about it. The quarterback position is the most important position in football, however, not only that but the quarterback position is a special position on the field because it carries so much value. While there is no certainty that the Steelers are going to get their QB1, getting the evaluation and the player right feels like what needs to occur.
“At the outset, we formulated a plan to have as many interactions with these guys as we could,” Tomlin said. “It was in an effort to understand who they are as people and as players. So, at the very beginning, there was an anticipation that we would have interactions in Mobile, in Indy, we would travel to their university and have that centered around their pro day, and then we also had planned to bring them in.”
However, just how thorough was the work that the Steelers put in? They have talked to a lot of these guys at this point near double-digit times. For Colbert, the scouting started in the college football season. However, they have dissected about every angle they could have on the quarterback plane up to this point. Seeing them live was more than just about on-field play, but was also about intangible qualities and observing them with their teammates.
“Myself and the scouts, we got see all of these quarterbacks live at least two sometimes three sometimes seven times,” Colbert said. “We’ve seen them live. So, you try to judge that based on how they talk with their teammates and coaches, and we then follow that up with their individual interviews. Coach and his staff will ask them certain questions as to how they will handle certain things. You know, you’re coming from a small town and Pittsburgh is a small town, but it’s a big football environment, so how do you anticipate this? Some of these guys have never been that far east.”
There is a rhyme and reason for everything, however, and the Steelers have laid out a comprehensive network and plan for a reason. That reason is to understand every angle that possibly could about the quarterbacks. They want to draft their next franchise guy, and it appears they have put in all the work to do so.
“This is why we laid out such a comprehensive process, to lay the groundwork to get to know as much information and to get to know these guys as well as you could,” Tomlin said. “Some of the things you suggest are not football related, but are personality related. Some people are extroverted, and introverted and settings such as this are draining for them. It was just getting to know them as players. But just as a significant component was getting to know them as young people.”
Tomlin specifically made a very interesting comparison. He likened their preparation for this quarterback class to their preparation for last year’s running back class. That is what will allow Tomlin and the Steelers to make the best decision they can possibly make as they move forward. This should make the Steelers’ decision of the quarterbacks one that is fascinating.
“I enjoy the process of having a heightened urgency per position,” Tomlin said. “It seems like, you know, a year ago where we really chopped up the running backs in a similar way (to this quarterback class).”
Will the Steelers draft a quarterback? That remains to be seen, but if there is anything for sure, it will be that if the Steelers do, they have put in all the work possible to do that.