It has been a rough off-season so far for general manager Kevin Colbert. His battle with Antonio Brown and Drew Rosenhaus ended about as bad as possible for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team also decided to cut ties completely with Le’Veon Bell, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. This means the team will only have a third and fifth round pick in return for two of the best offensive players in the NFL. To say Colbert misjudged these two contract situations would be an understatement. The question needs to be asked if Colbert is ready for the modern NFL landscape. Does he have what it takes to deal with athletes and their agents in 2019? Colbert can circumvent these questions by drafting at a high level. Keeping a steady flow of good young players will offset his short comings in free agency. Once again in 2019 the Steelers and Kevin Colbert will be relying solely on the draft to restock their talent. This means Colbert will have a great deal riding on the 2019 draft.
There was some hope in Steelers nation that the team might actually be players in free agency this year. After all, the team has more salary cap space than they’ve had in some time. Instead the Steelers are doing what they always do, avoiding the first days of free agency altogether. Instead Colbert has elected to resign his own players like Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, Xaviers Grimble, and BJ Finney. These moves Chopped away at the available cap space the team started out with. Of course the Colbert could gain back some space by cutting Morgan Burnett and extending Ben Roethlisberger. By that time however, most of the big name free agents will have signed already. It’s clear the team intends to sign some B-level free agents the same way they did the previous year.
So here we are. The Pittsburgh Steelers have ten picks in the 2019 draft, and plenty of holes to fill on the roster. Kevin Colbert can not afford another Artie Burns or Jarvis Jones in this draft. Not even a Bud Dupree will do. He has to hit, and hit big in this draft to make up for the losses this team has sustained. Speaking of losses, wide receiver has now leapfrogged all others as the main priority. Luckily, this is a deep draft at that very position. It is not deep at corner or linebacker however, which are also two major needs for this club. This is where Kevin Colbert will earn his money. If he can find a gem at either or both with his remaining selections, this draft becomes a major success. It won’t be easy, but Colbert has done it in the past. He is more than capable of producing several impact players in one draft. Look no further than 2017 when the Steelers netted TJ Watt, Ju Ju Smith Schuster, and James Conner. That is exactly the kind of haul this team needs in 2019. Anything short of that, and the whispers about Kevin Colbert’s job security will begin.