Colbert and Tomlin talk Pouncey
April 22nd, 2010
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The Steelers used their first-round pick Thursday night on an offensive lineman since 2002 when they took guard Kendall Simmons.
The selection of Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey also marks the first time since 1941 that the Steelers have taken a center with their first pick in the draft. Steelers director of Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin essentially said the team got the player they had targeted months ago.
It is worth noting that Pouncey will start his career at right guard and will eventually move to center. Here is what Colbert and Tomlin had to say after the Steelers’ used the 18th overall pick on Pouncey.
Kevin Colbert opening statement:
“I don’t think there was any big secret or surprise. Every mock draft that I saw had us picking Maurkice Pouncey and we’re extremely excited that he was available for the 18th pick. This is a kid that’s going to be a solid player. Played primarily at center at the University of Florida the last two years. His first year as a freshman he started at guard. It broke very well for us and we’re very excited to have Maurkice as part of the Steelers.”
Mike Tomlin opening statement:
“He’s a guy that we viewed as interior capable offensive linemen with position flexibility. He was able to start at right guard for those guys as a true freshman and spent the last two years at center. He’s a young guy with a great deal of experience playing high quality football in the SEC, the type of playing demeanor that we covet. He’s a physical guy, he’s football smart, we’re excited to have him.”
Q: You visited him at Florida. What impressed you most about him and was that the first time you talked to him?
Mike Tomlin A: “No, we talked to him in Indianapolis at the (NFL Scouting) Combine. We wanted to go down there not only to see him but of course they have some other players and we wanted to watch those guys interact and compete at their Pro Day. Had an opportunity to meet his father, his brother, just to watch how those guys interact, and really came away with some of the feelings we had coming out of Indy, that maybe he was our kind of guy.”
Kevin Colbert A: “In addition to that, coach Kugler, our offensive line coach also put him on the board and his intelligence was really very impressive, which is a premium for that position, and he did a great job on the board and watching film with coach (Sean) Kugler. We just came away more impressed.”
Q: You made the pick quickly. Did you get any trade offers?
KC A: “There were calls that were coming in but we were very happy he was there. We weren’t going to trade away from him.”
Q: Do you see him as a guard first who eventually moves to center?
MT A: “That is the plan at this point, yes. He played right guard (at Florida) as a true freshman but we’re open to whatever he’s flexible and capable of doing. We’ll start him out at right guard.”
Q: Will you work him in at center some this year?
MT A: “We’ll see how his work progresses at right guard before we add more to his plate.”
Q: Does Kraig Urbik stay at right guard? Does Trai Essex move to center?
MT A: “Of course all those guys have position flexibility. We’re not anointing him anything as far as starting lineups as so forth. He’ll be provided an opportunity to compete. Those other guys have position flexibility and our goal is to put the best five on the field and back them up by flexible men.”
Q: Does it say anything about a player when he excels in a conference like the SEC?
MT A: “It made it a fun and easy evaluation when you watch him play SEC football week in and week out and play against the likes of (Alabama’s Terrence) Cody and (Dan) Williams from Tennessee. We respect the football in that conference as everybody does and it’s a fun evaluation.”
Q: He seems to be good at picking up blitzes. Did that attract you to him?
MT A: “Liked that element of that game but here’s a guy that communicated at the line of scrimmage and even in regards to safety rotations and so forth. This is a guy capable of understanding rotations, he’s really a football-smart guy and mature beyond his years that way.”
Q: He supposedly had a low Wonderlic score. Did you look at that?
MT A: “We don’t talk about the score per se but the intelligence and ability to communicate at the center position is very valuable. Coach Kugler, again, had him on the board and coach Tomlin and I sat back and watched and we were very impressed at the way he could recall what he was taught and give it back to coach Kugler almost flawlessly. Florida did talk very highly of his intelligence and his ability to communicate. It was clear watching him work among his peers and in the weight room and on the field that this guy stood out as one of the (leaders) for sure.”
Q: When a player has as much success as he did in college and high school does that help?
KC A: “Doesn’t hurt.”
Q: Did you talk to him after picking him?
MT A: “He’s somewhat of a cerebral guy. I think the people in the background were more excited than he was. Those phone calls are really fun. Great conversation and, of course, he was really excited to be a Steelers.”
Q: This team does not draft centers in the first round. Why him?
KC A: “He was just that good and it was pretty evident early on when you started to evaluate this kid that this was going to be somebody that was going to be interesting to us where we were going to be picking. There was no predetermined position or anything like that. He was just that good.”
Q: Once 17th pick came in and he was still there was it that simple taking him?
KC A: “As picks wee made I always give coach the worse-case scenario at that pick and it worked out just like we wanted it to.”
Q: Might you move up in the second round by trading picks?
A: “This thing’s so deep that I think unless someone is dangling there that we just want to go back up there and get we’re just going to stay put. There’s a lot of quality players to be had throughout the rest of Friday and Saturday.”
Q: How do you think a transition for him from center to guard will be?
MT A: “I think the biggest thing is the communication because the center usually is going to be responsible for that. Again, Maurkice moved in there as a sophomore and they say did a great job. Again, what he did with coach Kugler was impressive and we don’t have any problem with that. I believe that they plan on moving his twin brother in from guard to center next year. So I think that it’s a transition that they were comfortable with. I think that when he gets here, coach is going to find a spot for him somewhere.”
Q: Why is it better for him to get time in at guard rather than sitting behind a veteran center?
MT A: “More than anything, of course, we’ve talked quite a bit about the importance of the center position and it being a hub of communication not only for the offensive line, but the offense from a protection standpoint. As a young guy coming in, it’s probably easier mentally to play guard because it’s more receiving information as opposed to giving it. Now of course we have a young man with some center exposure, so hopefully he’s a guy at guard that will visualize the game like a center. But definitely form a starting out standpoint, the guard position is one that receives information as opposed to giving it. So pre-snap should lessen his work load.”
Q: Does he have the nasty disposition of a guard when he plays?
MT A: “He does. He has a play demeanor that we covered. He’s a finisher. He’s a physical football player. He likes to play the game, but not only as he’s playing the game. When you do your research on this young man, he likes the things that come with being a professional football player and being a football player period. He likes to work out, he likes to compete in the weight room, he likes to work on his craft, and those are things, of course, that we’re looking for.
Q: Is the goal for him to eventually move to center?
MT A: “Well, the reality is that we have a guy that’s capable. He has legitimate position flexibility. Some of those questions will be asked as we continue on down the road.”