Steelers GM: We’ll draft a prospect who played in 2020 over one who didn’t

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College football players who opt out of the 2020 season — or have no choice but to sit out because their schools canceled their seasons — may suffer in the 2021 NFL draft.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert told Kevin Clark of TheRinger.com that he understands why some players and teams are choosing not to play, but he’s more likely to draft a player who played in 2020 than one who sat out.

“The one thing, the conferences that chose not to play, and the players that opted out, we understand all that. Obviously, they are doing it for safety and health, first and foremost, and we respect that. However, the players that get the opportunity to play and choose to play, we feel more comfortable in their evaluations,” Colbert said. “Because I just don’t know, sitting out a year, what those players are going to look like having missed the season. There’s just not a real natural source of information saying, ‘Well, when this player sits out, he’ll be this’ because we just don’t know. We respect the fact that they aren’t playing, but we also have to make the best decisions and I think the best decisions we’ll be able to make are the ones where we can see them play in 2020.”

Colbert isn’t ruling out the Steelers drafting a player who didn’t play this year, but he said that if an evaluation is close between, say, an SEC player who played in 2020 and a Big Ten player who hasn’t played since 2019, the Steelers would go with the SEC player in the 2021 draft.

“If there are two players that are close or equal, we’ll take the one that has played most recently,” Colbert said. “We’re hopeful that the other conferences get up and running. If they do, we’ll add that to the evaluations. If they don’t—again, all we have is 2019 and we’ll make the best decisions we can.”

Colbert probably isn’t the only GM who feels that way. It’s not those college players’ fault that the pandemic has put them in an unprecedented situation, but players who play are putting a bigger body of work on tape for NFL teams to evaluate, and that’s going to help them relative to the players who won’t play again until they’re in the NFL.

18 responses to “Steelers GM: We’ll draft a prospect who played in 2020 over one who didn’t

  1. Most, if not all, players who opted out were projected to be high draft picks. That suggests that they were more worried about maintaining their draft status than about covid. Clearly, many of the guys who thought they would be first-round picks are not going to go that high now and their agents are going to have a lot of explaining to do.

  2. This attitude is irresponsible at best. These are STUDENT athletes and the NFL is going to penalize them for circumstances beyond their control. Some have family issues to worry about and others had no choice as the decision was not made by them by rather their respective universities.
    It’s obvious that the thinking of NFL scouts and GM would take this under consideration, but an NFL GM announcing it shows a total lack of awareness, tact, professionalism, and should be considered what it is: a reckless threat directed at minors to promote his agenda. If he does not receive blow back from this, I will be surprised.

  3. I bet they’ll also be more likely to draft a prospect who didn’t play in 2020 over one who played but died or ended up with severe lung damage.

  4. Colbert isn’t ruling out the Steelers drafting a player who didn’t play this year, but he said that if an evaluation is close between, say, an SEC player who played in 2020 and a Big Ten player who hasn’t played since 2019, the Steelers would go with the SEC player in the 2021 draft.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Can we just stop this tired meme of “he did not rule out”? WHEN have you ever heard a GM say “I will NEVER make that choice, circumstances be damned!” They just don’t do it because it ruins flexibility and the ability to strike deals. GMs leave all options on the table.

  5. Sounds to me like he talking BS to avoid tipping his hand. Never tell anyone outisde the familynwhat your thinking strategy.

  6. Well that’s just common sense. If 2 players are rated similarly of course you always go with the 1 you have more info on as you feel your more likely to be right but you can see some commenters didnt actually read the story they just went with the headline.

  7. That statement will certainly be used as evidence in the lawsuits against the conferences that have cancelled or postponed their seasons.

  8. Ayub Josef says:
    September 8, 2020 at 1:37 pm
    Sounds to me like he talking BS to avoid tipping his hand. Never tell anyone outisde the familynwhat your thinking strategy.

    ****************************************************************************

    Colbert’s pretty upfront about Steelers drafting and other personnel(e.g., compensation) philosophies. Wouldn’t spend too much time looking into it as smoke and mirrors.

    Also, what he’s suggesting isn’t some deeply strategic idea that no one else is going to be thinking. At the heart of it, all he’s saying is that you can make a stronger evaluation about a player if you have a larger amount of information and more recent information about him. Ignoring the Covid context, there’s absolutely nothing controversial about that statement. In the Covid context, it implies that guys who can play this fall will be easier to evaluate and, therefore, less risky draft options.

    FWIW, I support student-athletes opting out if they’re not comfortable playing. You can support that and also think the crux of Colbert’s point isn’t contentious.

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