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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert hints at 2015 Combine goals

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All the sports talk related to football over the coming week and a half is going to be focused on two things; the 2015 NFL Combine and draft prospects.  Like it or not, it’s that time of year where players are weighed, tested, tried, analyzed and compared in Indianapolis.  On top of that, it gives football fans something to do with their time while they anxiously await the next regular season game.  On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert gave his insight on why the Combine has become important to NFL teams and what he will be focused on.

330 participants are to be on-hand in Indianapolis and Colbert and company get four days to get their first real opportunity to see prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft gathered together and put through the paces.  “In terms of the amount of information that we get from the Combine, it’s immense,” said Colbert.  “But again, it’s just another piece of the puzzle.”

Earlier this week, Kevin Ritchart wrote an insightful piece about the necessity for caution over Combine results, and his sentiment appears to be shared by Colbert.  “I learned that a long time ago. If you don’t like the guy as a player and he works out good, all you know is that he works out good,” said Colbert. “Maybe he doesn’t like to play. Maybe he can’t apply his athleticism to the game. Whatever the reason is, if you like a guy and he doesn’t work out good, you should probably still like him. You may have to temper it a little bit. It just helps verify what you believe or don’t believe.”

The Steelers will be one of 32 teams that will be able to submit drills they’d like to see worked into a player’s program.  In the past, Pittsburgh’s contingent have asked players to do drills they typically wouldn’t perform at their assigned position.  Colbert indicated to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com that it wouldn’t be unheard of for the Steelers to ask defensive ends they are interested in to show their ability to drop into coverage and catch the ball.   The goal is to determine not only natural athleticism but whether a player can adapt.  “Most of the outside linebackers in our defense have come from the defensive end position in college,” Colbert admitted.

The Steelers will undoubtedly be spending plenty of time looking at plenty of cornerbacks as well.  While game film is still used heavily in scouting, the Combine provides teams the ability to get past the heights, weights and 40-times that college teams often post on player profiles and measure the player accurately.  “We watched them play and we think they can do certain things,” said Colbert, “but that’s what we need to verify at the Combine and through (player) pro days.”  While Colbert wasn’t excited overall about the level of the 2015 Draft class as a whole in terms of being pop-out stars, he was hopeful about the group of cornerbacks that would be available for evaluation.

The Combine begins on Wednesday, but the Steelers haven’t targeted a cornerback in the first round of the Draft in all the time Colbert has been with the organization.  In 2004, Ricardo Colclough was the last corner taken high in the draft, but even then was a second-rounder (No. 38 overall).  “Never have we gone in [to a draft] and said we can’t take a position here in the first round,” said Colbert.

It is highly unlikely that the Steelers contingency will be spending any time reading online mock drafts, especially over two months before the event takes place.  With the Steelers picking at No. 22 this year, there has been no general consensus between different sites who have begun posting their lists.  Even Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives very little credence to what he feels is merely entertainment given to fans who feel a need to debate the nuances of potential picks.

Basing the goals of the Combine simply on what Colbert has stated, the Steelers will be taking the opportunity of looking over their own scouting notes and results of the individual drills on players only the organization is interested in.  The only hint Colbert truly offered was that the Steelers were interested in seeing what the Combine offered at three positions at this point in time; defensive end, outside linebacker and cornerback.  Those positions lack depth and his reference should come as very little surprise.

S. Dean is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan. The former owner of 'The Beam in Pittsburgh', Dean has worked in the sports media field for several years. S. Dean graduated with a degree in physical therapy and sports medicine, has a minor in journalism and is a Mt. Lebanon, PA, native. His favorite Steelers players (all-time) are Jerome Bettis, Lynn Swann and Joey Porter. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLHotTopix and Google Plus. To see his full bio, please visit the Meet Our Staff page.

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