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steelblood
05-09-2011, 05:36 PM
In his last installment of "On The Road", Kevin Colbert discusses how players are grouped and evaluated leading up the draft, position coach involvement and responsibilities, and the scouts roles.
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 7be155ed40 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/On-The-Road-With-Kevin-Colbert/69b0db3b-5998-435b-b9fc-dc7be155ed40)

Keyplay1
05-14-2011, 07:42 AM
Can't believe I never ran across this series before. I managed to dig up about 4 of these articles. After reading them you could wonder how he finds time to watch the Steelers games.

One thing I would never have known was the extent of his direct involvement. In the November article he said "With 12 scouts, myself included, on the road in the fall, we feel our coverage is comprehensive." TY steelblood for putting us casual fans on to this.

One other thing it made me curious about. In this year's draft at least 4 or 5 players were picked just before the Steelers turn in the very late rounds. They were part of the 30 who visited here. Whether or not the Steelers had any serious interest in any of them is unknown but it did seem like more than a coincidence. And after all this extensive evaluation period it makes you wonder what purpose these visits might have other than tipping the Steelers hand. A couple years ago San Diego took an OG that visited here right before the Steelers picked. Vasquez. He was projected to go even a rd later. Stuff like that. I think I've seen some threads where posters suggest skipping this visit stuff---I couldn't figure out what they were talking about but now I'm beginning to wonder.

papillon
05-14-2011, 07:54 AM
Can't believe I never ran across this series before. I managed to dig up about 4 of these articles. After reading them you could wonder how he finds time to watch the Steelers games.

One thing I would never have known was the extent of his direct involvement. In the November article he said "With 12 scouts, myself included, on the road in the fall, we feel our coverage is comprehensive." TY steelblood for putting us casual fans on to this.

One other thing it made me curious about. In this year's draft at least 4 or 5 players were picked just before the Steelers turn in the very late rounds. They were part of the 30 who visited here. Whether or not the Steelers had any serious interest in any of them is unknown but it did seem like more than a coincidence. And after all this extensive evaluation period it makes you wonder what purpose these visits might have other than tipping the Steelers hand. A couple years ago San Diego took an OG that visited here right before the Steelers picked. Vasquez. He was projected to go even a rd later. Stuff like that. I think I've seen some threads where posters suggest skipping this visit stuff---I couldn't figure out what they were talking about but now I'm beginning to wonder.

I think those visits to the Steeler facility while tipping their hand a bit are for personality and psychological evaluation. In the article it mentions that character and medical condition. This is priobably when the players are put through a physical examination and a personality/psychological examination. At the combine and such they only get 15 minutes to interview the players.

As you know the Steelers put a premium on football intelligence and character and it takes time to evaluate these types of intangibles.

Pappy

hawaiiansteel
05-26-2011, 05:41 PM
The Steelers Draft Board

5/10/11

2011 Steelers Draft Board Review

I’ve always been fascinated with the NFL draft and how the Steelers conduct themselves organizationally. You would think divulging Steelers draft info was tantamount to espionage considering how closely guarded they keep things. Perhaps, because of this my interest was peaked early on and my desire for information seemed to grow exponentially.

What I will share with you are my thoughts and observations from information that has been published either in print or via picture over the last 2 years. By analyzing the information carefully I believe I have a much clearer understanding of how the team sets their draft board and conducts business on draft day.

First, some background. The Steelers normally get together 3 or 4 weeks prior to the NFL draft to finalize their player evaluations and set their big board. This gathering is called the Big Read and involves everyone involved in the process from scouts, coaches, coordinators to Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney. If you want details go here.

The short version is the team breaks their draft down into evaluating 3 phases of draftable talent, street FA, mid round picks (Rds 4-7) and premium picks (Rds 1-3). Once evaluations are complete the team creates their board by evaluating players against not only players at their position, but against other positions as well.

Over the final days of pre-draft prep the team conducts a mock draft. What the team found over time was that trying to predict what other teams would do is useless so they only conduct a mock draft against themselves. In essence, what they end up with is a highly concentrated big board of players that they would pick 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc all the way to 32. When it comes to the day of the draft they simply pick from their board. It makes sense then that why they get the card up in a moments notice because they’ve already previously identified those players that fit their philosophy, need s, medical and character checks. It also has some negative implications IMO which I’ll get to later. For some insider info on the subject go here.

Moving on, it was 2 years ago that I discovered what appeared to be war room photos on the team web site. It appears that others noticed as well because of the detailed analysis recently provided by heinzsight I won’t try to duplicate his work, but instead attempt to emphasis his main observation and expand on them a bit further. I’m thoroughly convinced from what I’ve been able to piece together that a mosaic can be provided that is both accurate and informative.

First, I’ll show you a picture of the Steelers Draft Day War Room. As you enter the rectangular room of about 600 square feet you’ll find their Big Board located against the long wall in yellow. To the left is another board, which is the NFC team board, and along the opposite far white wall is their draft tracker table.

http://i53.tinypic.com/doaybo.jpg

The NFC team board is the 16 NFC teams aligned in columns alphabetically from left to right by last name. Each column contains 14 rows. Each row is a half round (for 7 rounds total) and contains up to 8 placards for likely team targets. The draft tracker keeps track of which team is picking for the 32 selections per round. There are 4 additional columns to the left of Round 1-7 which are used for an undetermined purpose.

The Big Board is the “Holy Grail’ and contains approximately 160 prospect placards. Kevin Colbert went into a fair amount of detail on how the 1000 draft eligible prospects were whittled down to those worthy of Steelers draft consideration. More info is found here.

I’ll get to breaking this down in much more detail.

To the left of this photo is the wall containing the doorway along with the AFC Team Board.

http://i53.tinypic.com/23kt6wk.jpg

The AFC team board is the same as the NFC board, with the difference that the Steelers are the leftmost column followed by the remaining teams in alphabetical order.

With the room layout identified we’ll get to the crux of the matter, the Steelers ‘Big Board” Here’s a head on shot of the 2011 board.

http://i51.tinypic.com/2946xz4.jpg

The Big Board is aligned in grid like fashion with postions across the top in columns and rounds in rows along the side. Each round is broken down into half rounds for a total of 14 rows per column. As Heinzsight provided previously the positions are arranged in logical fashion from left to right, offense first (QB, RB, HB, WR, TE, OC, OG, OT) then defense (DT/NT, DE, ILB, OLB, CB, S) followed by special teams (columns 15-17). How do I know this? Well, from careful analysis of pictures from both years and by zooming in/editing the images using various image/drawing software details can be clearly noticed. For instance, red dots for character/medical checks can be identified on player placards. This is standard annotation used by NFL teams and for a further explanation of what data is on each placard I’ll refer you to the excellent book, “The Draft” by Pete Williams. Williams went behind the scenes of the Falcons 2005 draft room and for them in addition to player name, each placard included position, player talent rating from 5.0 (UDFA) to 9.0 (Hall of Famer), along with football and personal character ratings. Any medical issues also showed up as red crosses. As a note the Falcons use the Bucko Kilroy rating system which apparently the Steelers use as well.

From examination of the sheer number of prospects by column, identifying the red dot players along with Steelers rankings based on team needs the positional columns can be identified with a high level of confidence.

Conclusions and Summary:

The Steelers Big Board is highly concentrated, especially at the top with only 18 players carrying Round 1 grades and 15 players containing Rd. 2 grades this year. Notice, that this total (33) approximates their mock draft results for the 1st 32 picks. Being concentrated, it guarantees the Steelers will draft a player they covet, but it also can leave them in a bind if their targeted players come off the board fast and furious, I believe it may also explain their penchant for drafting 2nd and 3rd round “suspects”. By this I mean those players that I would consider somewhat of a relative reach such as Jackson, Colclough, Sweed, Reid, Davis, Essex. It would also explain them trading out of Round 2 as they did in 09 and 06.

Also note that 8 CBs carried round 1+2 draft grades along with 2 Rd 1 safeties. We can assume one of the safeties must be Aaron Williams since the team considered him a S (per Bouchette). Of the corners we can assume, Peterson, Amukamara, Harris (per Bouchette), Smith + Dowling (per the red dots) to go along with others (Gilchrist, Moore, Marsh) were in the early mix. It’s not surprising then that the Steelers went with DE Rd 1 considering the DB depth at the top.

In Round 2, Gilbert was the selection and could very well have been one of the two Rd 1 tackles they had rated. Or possibly, the lone late 2nd rounder as well. In any case, we do know from reports that the Steelers were interested in trading up in Rd 1 @25. Could have been for Heyward, Carimi or possibly Carpenter who the Seahawks GM said they knew the Steelers liked and selected for themselves. However, one thing became clear, and that’s the Steelers value size, straight line performance, positional flexibility over ZBS type players with intelligence, speed and lateral quickness. IMO, Gilbert would be a bad evaluation for a Rd 1 OT, and only slightly less so at Rd 2 considering his on field production and athletic ability is no better than other mid-round talent such as Jah Reid, James Brewer and Chris Hairston. Also note the 3rd round OT cluster identified on the Steelers Big Board which brings the entire selection of Gilbert a bit into question.

Round 3+4 tapped into the limited number of CB prospects remaining (8) on their board as they landed Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen. Brown IMO made their draft as he represented supreme value at the bottom of 3 while he would have been a reach at 1.

Overall, from an aggregate:

3 QB total – the obligatory 5th round selection
23 RB total – 1 2A (Ingram?) along with late round depth/3rd down back (Baron Batch)
9 H-Back total – 2 high rated 1st round prospects (Kendricks for one). This is the column most under scrutiny, although I believe HB is the proper evaluation.
1 Center late
9 Guard – 1 mid-Rd 1 (obviously Pouncey)
9 Tackle – 2 high first (Carimi, Carpenter, Giblert?) along w/ mid round depth. Big (320+) mauler types with positional flexibility – Brewer, Reid, Hairston)
2 NT
16 DE – Two first rounders (mid 1 – Heyward) along with mid round depth
9 ILB – One high first (Miller projected inside?)
14 OLB – mid-to-late round depth (Chris Carter)
17 CB – 8 premium prospects then thins out to 9 remaining over rounds 3-7. Steelers should feel fortunate to come away with Brown + Allen
13 S – 2 firsts (Williams, Moore, Gilchrist?) then depth

155 candidates total with several more covered by person in the photo ~ 160 as Colbert mentioned

A note on red flags: it was clearly visible through last year’s photos that the Steelers draft board contains players carrying medical (red cross) and character (red circle) concerns. Football is a violent sport not played by choir boys. A certain edge is good as long as prospects are not bad individuals. It all comes down to determining a “calculated” risk and a team’s willingness to draft that particular player. In the Steelers case, I believe Jimmy Smith carried too much risk in round 1 but acceptable risk in round 2. The stacking of their board kind of reinforces that thought IMO. Twelve (12) total red dots are identified on the Steelers Big Board.

http://i51.tinypic.com/ou8sr8.jpg

The picture above is from the 2010 Big Board. You can clearly see the red crosses to the right of Kevin Colbert and the red dot above the forehead of Rooney. The resolution was much better in 2010 and this is to illustrate that player’s with medical and character concerns do make the Steelers Big Board. Remember, it all comes down to managing risk.

Now, below is a zoomed in photo of the 2011 Big Board to highlight the fact that 2 red dot players were evaluated high in their CB rankings. Pouncey is highlighted off to the left straddling R1A/R1B . Also note the lack of ranked OL prospects (C, OG, OT) at the end of round 1 and continuing through round 2 as highlighted by the black box area. Two OT were ranked with high 1st round grades (Carimi, Carpenter, Gilbert?) and one prospect inside the box at the end of round 2 . Notice at least 4 other OT prospects with 3rd round grades. Makes the Gilbert pick hard to understand IMO unless he carried a Rd 1 grade.

http://i53.tinypic.com/2946o1x.jpg

http://pit.scout.com/