‘See Where Life Goes’: Kevin Colbert completes final draft as Pittsburgh Steelers GM

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PITTSBURGH – Late Saturday afternoon, Kevin Colbert went on the clock for the last time as Steelers’ general manager.

With the No. 241 pick gathered in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft, Colbert and Steelers selected South Dakota State quarterback Chris Oladokun.

There were no tears in the trunk, no sentimental momentary reflection as Colbert made the choice.

But it was not due to lack of experimentation.

“It’s not in his DNA,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said with a laugh. “We tried to take him there, and he led us – maybe – to the doorstep.”

Speaking to the media after completing his 23rd draft with the Steelers and the 10th as official general manager, Colbert acknowledged that emotions would soon catch up with him, but in that moment, he took care of business as usual.

“It hits you a little later,” Colbert said. “But it’s like a game; when the game ends you appreciate it and think about it but you really want to reflect on it when it gets quiet and you are to yourself and it’s like, oh, wait a minute, what should I do next? I do not know.”

But that moment of quiet reflection came sooner than expected. Three questions later, Colbert, who helped build two Super Bowl-winning teams in Pittsburgh, was asked if he liked how he left the franchise.

“I do not want to say ‘better than’,” he said. “I’m proud we’ve added that space.”

His voice began to crack and he threw the pen in his hand against the table in front of him.

“There were four trophies.”

Tomlin reached out and patted Colbert on the back, comforting his longtime friend as he reflected on his life’s work.

“There were four when we got here. And you knew the job.”

While Colbert stared at the table and did his best to hold back the tears, Tomlin continued to comfort the general manager.

“It’s okay, brother,” the coach said.

Colbert took a deep breath and continued.

“You’re thinking of DMR [late Steelers chairman Dan Rooney], being able to add to that space means a wealth, “Colbert said.” That does not mean it is over. The next step we need to get more than. We will never lose that. But it means a lot. ”

Colbert is right. While his tenure as general manager is over, the Steelers’ organization – and its mission – continues. And in his final draft, Colbert did everything he could to leave the Steelers organization ready for success.

Not only did he draft a future future quarterback in Pitt product Kenny Pickett, the organization’s first quarterback in the first round since electing Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, but he also restored the wide receiver space with quality players in Georgia’s wideout George Pickens and Memphis speedster. Calvin Austin III. He gave the Steelers more depth on an aging defensive line with Texas A & M’s DeMarvin Leal, and he added another Heyward to the list – Connor – to fill a versatile role in Matt Canada’s offense.

“This was the final draft of general manager Kevin Colbert, and he did a great job of closing gaps,” wrote ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. in its post-draft analysis. “If Pickett becomes a star, Colbert may have created the Steelers in the next 15 years with this group.”

The fruits of Colbert’s work will not be fully known for a while, but he provided players to fill the most conspicuous gaps on the list, those who did not get complete answers in free agency.

“His imprint and influence on us will continue to be felt, played out in the lives of the men we selected here today,” Tomlin said.

At the very least, Colbert must hope this group is better than the first one he helped draft in 2000, when the Steelers selected wide receiver Plaxico Burress with their first round. Only one member of the nine-member draft class made a Pro Bowl: second-round offensive lineman Marvel Smith, who won two Super Bowl rings with the organization. Burress won one with the New York Giants.

With the draft behind him, Colbert will continue in his day-to-day role as general manager until the Steelers select his successor. The second round of interviews is expected to begin in earnest after the Steelers previously interviewed 16 candidates in the first round, including internal candidates Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt.

“We will go into that process no matter what the next step is when Art [Rooney] you decide to continue that search and we will see where it goes and how I can or may not fit into it, ”Colbert said. “I just want to make sure that again – I’ve said it before – no matter what the next step is, if I can help and not hinder, great.”

The night after the draft, Colbert also tried to continue as usual.

“I’m going back to the room and making sure we get all the free agents packed in and buttoning things up for tonight and going home and spending time with Janice, my wife,” Colbert said Saturday night. “And see where life goes.”

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