Steelers Draft Not A Mystery

You are about to read of the hopes and dreams of a man — hey, where you going? Come back. No, really you'll like this, so, OK, we'll cut the preface and get to it. <Br><Br> It was a rare occurrence, running into Steelers Director of Operations Kevin Colbert on an off day. He was at his desk and I was running an errand on a Saturday, no one was around.

"Hey, Kevin," I said, and, no, that's not a misquote.

"Hi, Jim. How are you?" he said with a big smile that is so down-to-earth, so friendly. I really like this guy. He's what we call here in Appalachia, "Good people."

I was passing through on my way to the restroom. I washed my hands and looked in the mirror, thinking what a great chance this was to talk to the guy. The big giant head wasn't anywhere to be found. He's probably at a pro day. The big boss is in Phoenix. Heck, nothing should stop me from asking a good question or two. Sure, it's verboten but the SS isn't around. And if Kevin doesn't want to answer the question, well, he won't and wouldn't think any worse of me for trying.

"Kevin," I said, startling him upon my return. "Off the record, can you tell me which positions you're looking at in the draft?"

There's always an odd, listing feeling when you get that big question off your chest. You always think you're trying to violate the man of something, and, frankly, you are. Kevin's smart enough to know that but friendly enough not to hold it against you.

"Off the record," he said with a light chuckle that means he recognizes the intended violation. But then he surprised me with a direct answer.

"Linebacker and fullback," he said as he grabbed a file out of a cabinet and sat down, presumably to scan a report on either of those positions.

"Fullback?" I said, a little startled myself. "The talks with Kreider not going so well?"

"No. He wants a big, interest-free loan," and with that Colbert turned his back to me with a finality that implied our conversation was finished and that he had to get back to work.

He looked back up to see if I was still there, and I was, but kind of walking sideways, wondering if I should plow ahead with more, but his look told me I'd learned enough. After all, I'd promised it would be kept off the record, yet his direct answers told me that he didn't care if I used the info or not.

What to do?

Heck, it was only a fullback and a linebacker, I reasoned, but then again he was probably only using me to help his current negotiations. Clark Haggans was the linebacker. Yes, that's it. I was being used to help the Steelers sign their restricted free agents. Well, I'll show him. I WILL keep it off the record. That'll surprise the bejeebers out of him.

And then all of the sudden, I was immersed in blackness.

"What the –" I thought to myself, and yes, I was in my bed. It had been a dream.

"But I'm still keeping it off the record," I groggily thought to myself.

"No, it'll be a great story," the devil over my right shoulder said. "Just keep Kevin out of it."

By then, I was up, the clicker in hand and soon the war filled my room. The dream was too real, though. One of those that, obviously, can be recounted in full detail, feelings and all. So real, in fact, that the answer, a full month before the draft, is probably one he'd give today. The Steelers are like that. Who are they drafting? Well, if they just got off the phone with an agent, a player at that position.

It's the way the Steelers operate. They stick to basics. The question comes up often at this time of year, and last year the guesses ran the gamut from tight end to cornerback to defensive end and so on. When the Steelers drafted a guard, fans smacked their foreheads and remembered that guard was the only position open for competition.

The answer, my friends, isn't blowing in the wind. The answer lies within.

By Jim Wexell
Steel City Sports


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