There are few teams in football more respected on draft day than the Pittsburgh Steelers. What makes the Steelers so respected is not just the fact that they have a track record of finding good football players, but they’ve also created a mindset of “Steeler football” and they stay true to that mindset/philosophy.
My dad coached the offensive line for the Steelers from 2007-2009 and despite what most people think, I rarely got inside information from him while he was there. In fact, he was always so jammed up with work that our discussions usually centered around a couple of brief discussions regarding offensive line play during the season and how his grandchildren were doing. During the draft process, I would ask questions about some offensive line prospects from time to time, but that was the extent of it.
Recently, over Tex-Mex, he began telling me about how the Steelers go about the draft process and I found it to be fascinating. In Pittsburgh, Kevin Colbert runs the draft but has Mike Tomlin helping to make decisions and there is a balance between the scouting department and position coaches. The Steelers pecking order isn’t what fascinated me, but rather, the manner in which they put together their draft board is what caught my attention.
Stacking The Board
After all of the readings of players are finished and the evaluations are complete, the Steelers will then stack their draft board. While other teams try and predict what teams ahead of them will do, the Steelers decided that predicting what other teams would do was a waste of time. I will keep the nuts and bolts about how the Steelers draft process works to myself, but I love their overall approach. The Steelers only care about what they can control which is their own draft board.
The Steelers create their draft board based on a mock draft where only the Steelers pick. They make picks 1 thru 32 in the first round for themselves based on Steelers football and their philosophies on both sides of the ball. While every team stacks their draft board based on how the grades that they have on players in all positions, the Steelers are able to put together a true “big board” based on their judgements of talent, fit to the system, need and character.
Have you ever been at the horse races and you are in line to make your wagers but you aren’t quite sure what your game plan is going to be? You end up making way too many bets and you come away with tickets that you didn’t really want. The same thing has probably happened to you in fantasy football drafts. With their method, the Steelers are able to operate within the first two rounds with a checklist that they rarely have to deviate from. Sure, they may make go off script based on how the draft is unfolding, but they know who they are and what they want to do when they are on the clock.
Mock drafts? You can keep them. The Steelers only care about the Steelers.