View Full Version : Tomlin knows Steelers' needs

02-25-2008, 08:06 AM
NFL Scouting Combine: Tomlin knows Steelers' needs
Monday, February 25, 2008
By Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was a bright-eyed, first-year head coach at the NFL Scouting Combine a year ago, but he didn't have a good feel for his team's strengths and weaknesses.

This year Tomlin said it is much easier to focus on the type of players he believes will improve the Steelers. He has a far better understanding of the team's roster and needs.

"There's a considerable difference [between last year and this year]," Tomlin said yesterday between quarterback workouts at RCA Dome. "There is a level of comfort, there's less unknowns, you know the football team, you've been through a season with them. You've got a concrete example of what they're like on a day-to-day basis and what you need to add to as we move forward.

"It's a second lap around the track, if you will, and like I'm sure in any job, you do it, you know your co-workers, you know the people that you work with and there's a level of comfort as you move forward."

Along with understanding his team better, Tomlin also understands the organization better and has become well-schooled in what has become known as the "Steeler way." He has worked an entire season with Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert and the two have a much better feeling for what the other expects. They both expect this year's draft to be run much more efficiently.

"Both of us understand each other a lot better," Colbert said. "And I think the biggest thing for him is he understands our team a lot better from the standpoint of what he has and what he doesn't have, and last year at this point he really didn't know that. We kind of knew what he was about and he kind of knew what we were about, but he had to find out what his team was about and I think that is the biggest difference in him this year heading into the draft."

Colbert said Thursday the Steelers were positioned to take the best player available with their pick -- No. 22 -- in April's draft and Tomlin confirmed that idea. He said the roster is fairly solid and there are so many good prospects at so many positions the Steelers have the luxury of taking a look at a lot of players.

Tomlin, who referred to himself as a "personnel beatnik" and said he loves events such as the combine and the chance to meet and evaluate players, has been a part of drafts in the past where his team had specific needs and were limited in who they would draft. He said he much prefers this way because of the flexibility it brings.

"I think [flexibility] is a great thing," Tomlin said. "I also think this is an awesome draft and we have an opportunity to look at guys at some different positions and look at the best guy available if you will. I think we can take that approach as we push through the draft. You like to be in that position, especially since it's evident that this is a talented group of guys."

The offensive line is an obvious area where the Steelers need help. They took a step last week toward solidifying that unit by securing tackle Max Starks for at least another season by making him the transition player. Tomlin said there are still a number of ways the unit can be improved.

He said he hasn't considered making position changes and added there is also the possibility the Steelers could find some line depth this weekend when free agency begins.

"We've got to get better at all aspects of our team, O-line being one of them," Tomlin said. "We'll take a look at those things. You know me, I'll leave no stone unturned. I'm open-minded when it comes to position flexibility. I think that you've got to be that way with the emphasis of putting your best players on the field. But all of that will play itself out in terms of who we add. We've got to do better and that's the reality of it."

Although Tomlin said he is open to the idea of signing a few players in free agency, he made it clear that the Steelers won't be big players in the free-agent market. He said there are some players who could help the Steelers who will be available later this week when the free-agency period begins, but the Steelers' long-term success will be attained via the draft.

"Our philosophy is building the team through the draft," Tomlin said. "Although we're open to free agency, we've never been major players in free agency and I don't anticipate that changing.


El-Gonzo Jackson
02-25-2008, 12:41 PM
Good article. I read between the line that Tomlin knows the needs and will draft the best player in one of those needs. O line, D line, Wr, CB.

The Colbert article earlier implied best athlete available. I dont think they are gonna draft a RB, TE, QB, OLB in round 1 if they are the best available athletes.