It won’t be long now. In a matter of hours, the annual dog-and-pony show that is the NFL draft will get under way in Chicago. So as we steel ourselves for another year of distracting TV graphics, studios filled with talking heads, awkward live interviews, uncomfortable handshake/hug combos and flat-brimmed hats, let’s be honest. No team – the Steelers included – is going to be better (or worse) when the draft concludes on Saturday than it is right this minute.
Sure, you can argue the impact each drafted player could maybe/possibly/someday have on a team’s depth chart, but football games aren’t won or lost in a hotel ball room in April. Games are decided between the white lines in the fall and winter – after rookies have had their chance to prove their worth through minicamp, training camp and the preseason.
At this point, the draft-eligible players are who they are. The film has been dissected. Bodies have been poked and prodded. Minds have been tested. Techniques have been broken down. Characters have been explored. Nobody is going to get bigger, stronger or faster merely because they get drafted by your favorite team this weekend. Even though I’m a part of the media machine that churns out NFL content with some degree of regularity, I’m with Steelers GM Kevin Colbert when it comes to the disdain for the glut of information that seemingly exists solely to cloud the draft process.
Savvy team executives are able to cut through the crap – or ignore it all together – and stay true to their draft board. That’s what Colbert is trying to do, and that’s why he used his press conference earlier this week to decry the spate of misinformation that’s been released as a means of unnecessarily inflating – or deflating – a player’s stock.
The Steelers needs on both sides of the ball are pretty clear to anyone who watched even a single game last season. The defensive backfield needs attention at both cornerback and safety. The pass rush – or lack thereof – must be addressed. This might be a good time to snag an eventual successor to Heath Miller at tight end and get deeper at running back and wide receiver. Oh, and an offensive lineman or two wouldn’t hurt.
We’re all going to have thoughts about the specific players the Steelers wind up in the next three days. We’ll talk ourselves into – and out of – all the ways these players can help the team in 2015. That’s just what we do. But until these players get on the field on the South Side later this spring and at St. Vincent this summer, we’re not going to know exactly what the Steelers can expect in terms of talent and production from this year’s incoming draft class.
So in the spirit of NFL insiders everywhere – and their penchant for tipping picks before they’re announced – I am going to predict one thing in advance of the Steelers making their 2015 picks: I have no idea what’s going to happen. And that’s the way I like it.
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