Colbert points to intangibles and intelligence as biggest reason for draft mistakes

Getty Images

As the folks who’ll be covering the draft live prepare to trumpet the skills and measurables of every player who gets picked, a harsh reality lurks.

Roughly half of the players will never make it.

So why can’t teams, with all the time and money spent obsessing over each draft class, do a better job of separating the sirloin from the slappies?  Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert offered his take on the situation during Tuesday’s PFT Live.

“The areas when we’ve missed it’s been the intangible areas, the things you can’t measure,” Colbert said.  “You try to spend as much time with these guys as you can.  Even if a kid doesn’t have any [past] character indiscretions, when you get him in your locker room maybe he wilts.  You just don’t know the real true personality until you stick them into your program and watch them work and watch them go to meetings and how they interact with players.  That’s the biggest thing that I’ve seen when we failed, it’s been the intangible qualities that we haven’t been able to predict.

“The other thing would be the intelligence.  Players have different levels of intelligence.  It’s a very complicated sport from a learning standpoint, probably more so than any other professional sport and you have to factor in that learning, and some kids just can’t handle it.  Even though they have the physical abilities, their mental capabilities maybe don’t match up.  So again in our situation, when we’ve missed its been those two areas and that’s what we try to focus on, but quite honestly it’s the hardest thing.  It’s just something you can’t nail down all the time.”

When it comes to intelligence, we’ve heard (as we always do) about some of the low Wonderlic scores and high Wonderlic scores.  There hasn’t been a peep about the results of the new, much-hyped, computer-based intelligence test.  Which possibly means that teams are still trying to figure out what the numbers mean — and whether it will help them do a better job of finding men who have a sufficient amount of the right kind of intelligence to thrive in the NFL.

Until, of course, the NFL finds a way to reliably project whether a player is self-motivated, whether he is capable of true leadership, and ultimately whether he truly loves football enough to make the full commitment to the sport, the teams will be spending lots of money draft picks on dry holes.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

23 responses to “Colbert points to intangibles and intelligence as biggest reason for draft mistakes

  1. This is EXACTLY why the Wonderlic or other intelligence tests ARE important.

    Do people have learning disabilities? Sure. Are some people far more intelligent than others? You bet.

    The thing is, media like to point out the exceptions to the Wonderlic, how this guy with this poor score, played for 10 years, no problems. Some media like to point out that guys don’t try on the Wonderlic. Well, if you are not trying on the Wonderlic, what else are you not going to try on? What attitude is that? Are you hiding the fact that you might bomb it even if you did try?

    I can tell you right now I know of Steelers who have not worked out, who are not working out who have a ton of physical talent. I can point to em right now.

    In pro football, in business, in life, smart is still better than dumb, no matter how the media tries to dance around the issue and no matter how they try to minimize it or make it go away.

    Lower intelligence people tend to make bad choices off the field. They may not realize what they are doing to their careers. They may succumb to temptation easier. They may not get play action passes as quickly. Sorry, important.

  2. Every player in the draft spent most of their life being the best athlete on the field. In college they may have faced teams with a few athletes as talented. Now they face teams that are totally stocked with athletes good or better than they are. This is going to lead to early failures. I think they might look at how athletes deal with failure and success. Does it make them sulk or work harder? The same with success. Does it make them want more or does it make them lazy?

  3. Up until the NFL, they’ve succeeded just by reacting on the field, letting their athleticism take over. The NFL is a much more proactive game, and if you’re reacting, you’re probably late on the play.

  4. Spending just X-amount of time with a 21YO and watching some game film won’t tell us how they pan out in the NFL. Throw in locker room activity, leaders (or lack of) around them, expectations, media, main stage… It can easily be a recipe for disaster.

  5. They should be concerned about how their players behave at bars, especially in the restrooms.

  6. Adams? You mean Mike Adams? In case you hadn’t noticed, he was developing into a very good tackle before suffering an injury. He didn’t have any off-the-field incidents, and was named the team’s rookie of the year.

    He’s not elite by any means, but as a second-round draft pick, he had a pretty good rookie season.

  7. Mike Adams was tweeting about waking and baking, then tested positive at the Columbine, and then was drafted by the Steelers, and the cycle repeats and will repeat. Santonio Holmes all over again. The Steelers aren’t any better than any other team, it’s time they get off the bandwagon about the Rooney way.

  8. Mike Adams hasnt done anything since hes become a Steeler other than becoming a dominant run blocker. Not sure why youre picking on him, hes got a bright future now that hes turned things around.

    A good quote that wasnt used was when Colbert said that players with past problems dont always have off the field issues and guys with red flags arent always saints when the money hits their bank account. No one can know how a player will pan out but the Steelers do plenty to make sure they are taking the right type of player.

    Every team drafts a Chris Rainey.

  9. They should be concerned about how their players behave at bars, especially in the restrooms.

    Not sure you should be yapping as a raven fan. You remember Ray Lewis and T-Sizzle the bleacher…right, thought so….ssshhh practice typing but don’t hit send.

  10. Good grief, does every NFL team try to measure players and not “read” the intangibles or evaluate them in any way? There’s 2 parts to this aspect of the job Colbert, the objective and subjective elements, and you have to have a skillset for evaluating BOTH of them and at the same time! Gee whiz. Some of these comments from NFL personnel are absolutely numskull things to say. The Steelers might be fighting to hit the bottom next year.

  11. They should be concerned about how their players behave at bars, especially in the restrooms.

    You as a Ravens fan have no room to talk about things such as behavior at bars….

  12. Penguins49ers

    Yeah and mike adams was so horrified when he got news that he was taken off the steelers draft board that be personally drove to steelers headquarters and met with management to apologize, and assure them he could change. He didnt do this with other teams. He wanted to be a steeler, now he is, and he (so far) has been taking it very seriously.

  13. Wait, I thought intelligence didn’t matter? Florio said so himself. Oh well, does Colbert care if a player is gay? Because that’s obviously very important to Florio.

  14. ziggy26 says:
    Apr 24, 2013 10:20 AM
    Adams? You mean Mike Adams? In case you hadn’t noticed, he was developing into a very good tackle before suffering an injury. He didn’t have any off-the-field incidents, and was named the team’s rookie of the year.

    He’s not elite by any means, but as a second-round draft pick, he had a pretty good rookie season.

    ===================================

    False. Adams was cited for drug possession, suspended 2 games in 09, and suspended 5 games in 11 as part of Ohio States “Tattoo 5”. Not to mention testing positive for pot at the combine. He is a very immature individual.

  15. “The areas when we’ve missed it’s been the intangible areas, the things you can’t measure,” Colbert said.

    I know this is true for everyone in professional sports who drafts anyone for any position, but it still sounds like an excuse to me.

  16. False. Adams was cited for drug possession, suspended 2 games in 09, and suspended 5 games in 11 as part of Ohio States “Tattoo 5″. Not to mention testing positive for pot at the combine. He is a very immature individual.

    Judging from your posts to my WordPress account you are more immature than Adams….just saying.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!