The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

February 21, 2014

Steelers GM impressed with talent in this year’s draft

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Kevin Colbert’s eyes light up when he talks about the 2014 NFL draft.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and this is the deepest draft that I’ve ever seen.” the Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager said Thursday on the opening day of the NFL Scouting Combine.

A record 102 underclassmen declared for the draft, and more than 330 player prospects are gathered here to be poked and prodded over the next several days.

Although the Steelers have the 15th overall pick, Colbert was quick to point out that the underclassmen scare him to some degree.

“With the juniors and redshirt sophomores, we are cautiously optimistic about their emotional and physical readiness for this huge jump,” he said. “Even though it's the most talented group I've seen, it's probably the most immature group.

"We have to be prepared for more player development-type programs to get the development out of these players."

The good news for the Steelers is that the May draft is rich with talent at wide receiver, cornerback and offensive tackle.

Colbert said he and his scouting staff department trust their instincts when it comes to picking players.

“The information is endless,” he said. “It can be overwhelming if you let it. You still have to go by what you’re seeing when they play. You have to true to your evaluations. The films, the games, the practices, from a physical standpoint and not get caught up with all the buzz about players.

“A lot of times you to remove the emotion all the hype. The hype’s great. It helps makes our game what it is. But when you’re evaluating, you try to remove that emotion and just really make a decision based on how the guy plays football.”

Colbert realizes the urgency for the Steelers to shake things up. If they don’t, they could remain pretenders in the AFC rather than contenders.

The Steelers were winless in the preseason and started the regular season 0-4 – their worst start in 45 years - before rebounding to go 6-2 the second half of the season.

But their 8-8 record this past season wasn’t good enough to earn them a playoff berth, and the Steelers missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since Colbert, a Pittsburgh native, took over as GM in 2000.

“When you go 8-8 in back-to-back years, it’s a huge disappointment, not only to our fans, but the organization,” Colbert said. “We feel it every day. It’s not something we’re comfortable with.

“I’m sure organizations that are used to winning – anybody who’s not in the playoffs after you’ve been there – it can devastating. 

“But we have to fight through it and hopefully we’re not talking about that next year.”

Colbert acknowledged the Steelers have some work to do in order to get under the salary cap – they’re $8.67 million over according to overthecap.com - before the NFL’s free agency period starts March 11.

But he didn’t discuss specifics, such as whether the team would restructure quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract or release former Pro Bowl linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Roethlisberger’s cap hit in 2014 is $18.95 million. Woodley would count more than $14.17 million against the cap next season if he is cut today.

“When you’re trying to judge the cap, there’s a different facet every day,” Colbert said. “There’s so many moving parts between now and March 11, it’s hard to nail it down. “We’ll continue to watch it, continue to monitor it, and make adjustments as need be. But it’s a very fluid situation.”

Word surfaced Thursday that the NFL will raise its cap to $130 million in 2014, up from $123 million.

“I think that’s a welcome rumor,” Colbert said. “We have no information on the cap and I don’t anticipate us getting that until close to March 11. We have to prepare for the worst and see where it lands.

“You don’t want to have a false hope that it’s going to be there and then it’s not. We still have to prepare off what we were working off last year and maybe add to it. Those numbers are floating around but they haven’t been substantiated.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Cleveland Browns receiver Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1

    A person with knowledge of the meeting tells The Associated Press that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will have a hearing with NFL officials in New York on Aug. 1.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pirates 0723 Early outburst carries Pirates past Dodgers

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers 0723 After makeover, Steelers ready for resurgence

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers Patriots Front.JPG Gronkowski cleared to play at Patriots training camp

    Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play at the New England Patriots training camp.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dodgers Pirates Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
    Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • McIlroy 0720 McIlroy holds on to win British Open

    Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy.
    On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0719 Pirates take second straight over Rockies, win in 11th inning

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • out at home Eighth-inning rally carries Pirates to victory over Rockies

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads