Steelers combine preview Ten things we need to hear from GM

เวลาปล่อย:2023-02-28 08:41 ที่มา: ต้นฉบับ เรียกดู:

INDIANAPOLIS Who is running the draft? How much influence will Andy Weidl have? How much change has occurred over the past eight months?

New general manager Omar Khan hasnt spoken to the media since the dayin early August, so up until now, everything has been speculation when it comes to Khan and the new-look front office.

We already got a glimpse into what Khan can do in constructing a roster. He signedMinkah Fitzpatrickto a lucrative deal and decided Johnson was one of the few receivers worthy of a second contract in Pittsburgh. Khans biggest accomplishment was pulling offthe trade deadline coupwith theBearsthat returned the 32nd pick for Chase Claypool.

Known as the money man for two decades, Khan now has the label of general manager. And with great power comes great responsibility.

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When Khan steps to the podium inside the Indianapolis Convention Center on Tuesday morning leading up to theNFLScouting Combine, he will have the floor all to himself in front of the largest crowd he has ever spoken in front of. He has some explaining to do.

TheSteelerswent 9-8 in his first year and missed the playoffs. But part of that was still under the last regime led by Kevin Colbert. Its Khans game now, and it is time to get some answers.

Now, the combine is for scouting players, but it is mostly to put a bow on a years worth of work to confirm what the team already believes about a player. The hard work is done. The answers to questions arent.

Here are 10 things we need to see from the Steelers or hear from Khan during the combine:

Former Steelers GM Kevin Colbert at the combine in 2022. (Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

1. Who exactly is running the draft? Who makes the final call?

This is the million-dollar question that everybody wants an answer to. Is it Weidl? Is it Khan? Is it the combination of Khan, Tomlin and Art Rooney? We havent been given any kind of clarification of the new dynamic of the front office. Khan hasnt been available since his introductory news conference on issues like that, and it was too early to go down that path.

Rooney suggested a different way of going about the draft when he talked to the media last month but deferred specifics to Khan.

Ten thoughts on owner Art Rooney IIs state of the Steelers interview

Khan isnt known for evaluating players. However, he has worked closely with Tomlin and Colbert for the past decade-plus, which has afforded him time to learn a different aspect of the game. Khan will take over the Colbert role going to the Senior Bowl, the combine and pro days because thats part of the job, but he is also aware of his limitations.

Khan pushed forEaglespersonnel man and good friend Weidl to be part of the structure of the front office as part of a package deal, even though Weidl was also a finalist for the Steelers general manager job. Weidl put together the Eagles draft board for a couple of years then turned that over to GM Howie Roseman.

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Mike DeFabo (@MikeDeFabo)February 12, 2023

We had meetings and talked about how I wanted to structure this, and I felt that Andy was a valuable piece to me, Khan said when he was hired.

That could be the way the Steelers go about their business with Khan running the show, but until we are told that, it is purely speculation.

Colbert was set in his ways when it came to divulging information about the draft. Youve heard it a million times before: He doesnt talk about prospects, doesnt speak on specific free agents, and so on and so forth.

Back during Tomlins rookie year, the coach was asked about Darrelle Revis and spoke glowingly of the Aliquippa and Pitt star. Colbert made a wisecrack about Tomlin being a new guy in the building. Safe to say that Tomlin never spoke on a specific prospect again.

Spending 20 years around Colbert, you better believe thats one thing that will be held over from the previous regime. Even though Khan will speak to the masses at the combine for 15 minutes and then break off with the local media and some one-on-ones with national folks, hes not going to divulge much if any tangible information when it comes to prospects and the draft and thats a shame.

A relationship between the head coach and the general manager is crucial. It can tear things apart, as it did with Bill Cowher and Tom Donahoe at the turn of the century, or it could thrive into a unique relationship like Colbert and Tomlin had over the past 2o-plus years.

Weve seen the two work together during the season, talking every day after practice, and they also collaborated at the trade deadline and on in-season free agency. Last month, they evaluated at the Senior Bowl together, and now they will spend a week in Indianapolis before heading out on the pro day circuit.

We have mostly seen that the two have gotten along together well, but we havent seen it in a draft-like setting. Will anything be noticeable during the combine that suggests one way or the other? I doubt it, but seeing it with your own eyes is always the most revealing.

Khan was hired in May, after free agency and the draft, and then rearranged his staff, including adding new pro personal director Sheldon White. Two months earlier, the Steelers stepped out of their comfort zone and spent a $140 million in free agency, including several players from the outside:Mason ColeJames DanielsLevi WallaceMyles JackAhkello WitherspoonMitch TrubiskyandGunner Olszewski.

While Tomlin obviously had a say in who they brought it, Khan wasnt the GM yet, and some of his new team wasnt even in the building. Under their evaluation, do some of these guys not fit with how they want to construct their roster?

Even though the offensive line played well in the second half of the season, Weidl is known for valuing both the offensive and defensive lines. Could we see an unexpected change at a position that played well?

The Steelers need more dynamic offensive linemen and better cornerbacks. However, these two positions were rarely prioritized under Colbert.

You can make an argument that the Steelers rarely picked in the top third of the draft, where the top tackles and corners usually reside. Still, they havent put much of any draft capital in the positions in the first round. It could be just a matter of philosophies.

The Steelers have almost totally ignored the offensive line since taking David DeCastro and Mike Adams with back-to-back picks in 2012. Theyve drafted only seven offensive linemen over the past 10 years, and all have been third round or later.

The last first-round choice Pittsburgh used on a tackle was 27 years ago, Jamain Stephens. The last time they used a first-round pick on a cornerback wasArtie Burnsin 2016. Before that, it was Chad Scott in 1997.

The combine is a good place to fill spots on the coaching staff. With John Mitchell retiring, Brian Flores going to Minnesota and assistant wide receiver coach (who also helped on special teams) Blaine Stewart going to West Virginia, there are some potential spots to fill.

The Steelers have had a defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator in waiting for the past couple of years. There is nobody on the staff that sticks out in that area. Indianapolis is a perfect meeting spot for coaches to get promoted or a simple place to get together and chat.

With Matt Canada in the final year of his contract, a veteran offensive mind could be on Tomlins mind. At worst, there need to be a couple of replacements in the staff.

Free agency isnt for another couple of weeks, but with the majority of the agents in town, this week provides a perfect opportunity to gauge whether or not their client is interested in signing with the Steelers.

They havent historically been huge players in free agency other than a smitten of activity over the years. They are more of a draft-and-develop team, thus bringing Cameron Sutton andTerrell Edmundsto the forefront of the conversation.

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How interested are the Steelers in re-signing Sutton and Edmunds? Neither will break the bank, but both could get more money on the market compared to what the Steelers would pay for them.

Sutton should be a priority, and this week would allow Khan to get a head start on re-signing one of his own.

We probably know the answer to this, but do they want Trubisky back for another season despite counting over $10 million against the cap as a backup toKenny Pickett?

Rooney said last month that they want Trubisky back, but things can change. Adding money to the cap, finding a better backup and even a potential draft-day trade could alter those plans.

Surely, Khan wont show his hand, but facts are facts: The Steelers could add $8 million in cap space by releasing Trubisky, who has been on the record about not being happy with how things turned out for him last year. To move Trubisky, the Steelers would have to add a quarterback.

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WithMason Rudolphlikely gone too, it could complicate the decision even further.

Khan is very excited to have three of the first 49 picks and four of the first 80 after trading Claypool for what turned out to be the first pick of the second round. The Steelers have two picks in the second round for the first time in the Super Bowl era.

The options are plenty, and the combine could shed a light on it for the Steelers.

Three picks in the first 49 could influx the team with talent, but a pick could be packaged to move up and get a player that they covet. The Steelers rarely traded under Colbert. It is also rare to have that much capital, and Weidls former team (the Eagles) is known for being active in trades, both up and down the board.

If Khan wants to make a splash, he could move up and get a top-1o pick.

With the on-field evaluation process all but complete, the Steelers use this time at the combine to get to know the player more through the interview process. It will be interesting to find out whether the line of questioning changes with the new regime. With analytics being a little more part of the evaluation, what those 15 minutes are used for in terms of questions might be different.

(Photo of Omar Khan and Art Rooney II: Gene Puskar / Associated Press)

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Mark Kabolyis a senior writer for The Athletic covering the Pittsburgh Steelers. He joined The Athletic in 2017 and has covered the team since 2002, first for the McKeesport Daily News and then the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mark, the president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America, has covered the Steelers in three Super Bowls (XL, XLIII, XLV).Follow Mark on Twitter@MarkKaboly