Yesterday in the Steel City, Pittsburgh Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin sat down for their annual ‘pre-draft press conference’ which is always as entertaining as watching the grounds’ crew fill in muddy patches on Heinz Field.
These pressers are very standard and by nature are not going to divulge much in the way of information. None of the 32 NFL teams want to tip their hands as to who they are targeting in the draft and this is very understandable from a draft strategy point of view.
Colbert and Tomlin also mentioned that both Casey Hampton and Max Starks are not completely out of the picture yet in terms of possibly returning to the team. This announcement was a bit surprising especially in Hampton’s case but considering the current lack of depth at the nose tackle position it may be warranted.
We were also updated on the health of Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller. According to both the GM and the coach “there is nothing new to report.” The same was said for injured linebacker Sean Spence as well.
There were however two statements that came out of the presser that I found particularly alarming despite the fact that neither should have really been all that far out of left field since this is how these guys talk.
Kevin Colbert said of potential draft picks, “I don’t envision anyone coming in and being an impact in Year 1.” Really? You have a team that is rapidly aging before your eyes, a tremendous lack of depth and few offensive play-makers yet you don’t expect any draft picks to make an impact?
This line of thinking makes me ill. With all of the rookies that have had an impact in their first year of professional football over the last few years, this statement makes me wonder if it really is 2013 or if it’s 1913…
The Steelers need guys who can contribute now. Not next year or in three years, but now. They no longer have the depth and youth at positions to be able to afford the “let them learn” approach.
The other statement made by Colbert was in regards to the seriousness of this draft for the Steelers in relation to past drafts. “This draft is no more critical than other drafts for the Steelers.” For a guy to claim there are potential starting players in the first three rounds of this draft as he did in the presser and then to say that makes no sense to me.
Count me as one who has admittedly overreacted to an 8-8 season coming on the heels of an embarrassing playoff loss the year before, but I see cracks in the foundation right now and I know I’m not the only one. The House of Steelers has always been strong but that doesn’t mean it won’t need improvements from time to time and right now is a time.
The fact is that this draft is critical for this team not just for this season but for perhaps the next three to six years and maybe beyond. Colbert cannot afford too many swings and misses in this draft or else it will be his job, not Tomlin’s on the line.
I’ve been around long enough to know that ‘GM speak’ and ‘coach speak’ are part of the press conference paradigm. Colbert doesn’t want to inflame the fan base any more than it already is so I get why he is minimizing things. While there many who are fans for just a few months out of the season, there are those of us who talk and study ‘Steelers’ 365 days a year so we are allowed to be miffed occasionally when this type of ‘speak’ is thrown at us.
I just hope that both Tomlin and Colbert, behind closed doors, realize just how important this draft is for not just them but the future of the franchise over the next several years. And that’s not ‘coach speak’ either.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.