Kevin Colbert on 2020 opt outs: If two players are close, we’ll choose the one who played

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One common theme shared by General Managers at this year’s pre-draft press conferences has been the difficulties in preparing for the draft given the lack of a Combine and in-person meetings with prospects.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert shared those thoughts on Monday and also touched on another one of the things teams have to weigh in this year’s evaluations. A number of college players opted out of playing last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Colbert said that the team hasn’t ruled out drafting someone who made that choice.

Colbert did add that it’s hard to sit out a year and that the uncertainty of how things will go upon returning means that they’re going to favor someone who did play in 2020 if all else is equal.

“If they’re close, we’re going to take the player that played,” Colbert said.

Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, tackle Penei Sewell, linebacker Micah Parsons, and tackle Rashawn Slater opted out last year and are still expected to be off the board in the early part of the first round. If Colbert’s view is shared by many of his peers, prospects like cornerback Caleb Farley and defensive end Gregory Rousseau may go lower than expected once things get rolling on Thursday.