(Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
With already having an indication that 2021 was going to be Ben Roethlisberger's last season, the Steelers have vetted this year's quarterback class thoroughly, dating all the way back to the fall. Kevin Colbert said at the Steelers' annual pre-draft press conference on Monday that he and the scouts got to see all of the quarterbacks in this class live at least two times, sometimes three, sometimes as many as seven times.
“Quarterback is the most critical position in our sport,” Colbert said. “We have to get that right. Could we add somebody? Yes. Could we start the season without adding anybody? Yes. We’ll see where it all goes.”
With Roethlisberger orchestrating an 18-year Hall of Fame career, the Steelers haven't had to worry about the quarterback position in nearly two decades.
“When you had a quarterback like Ben for that many years, you knew that (quarterback) wasn’t going to be the preference high in the draft, and you didn’t spend as much time at the position because you probably weren’t going to entertain it,” Colbert said. “We did spend more time on that position (this year), and it was necessary. It was a good process. The exposure the scouts and I had in the fall, we scouted with that intent.”
The Steelers have brought in seven quarterbacks for pre-draft visits and attended all five of the consensus top-five quarterback's pro days. So, it's been no secret that the Steelers are interested in drafting a quarterback. Tomlin even said at the Owners Meetings in March that they'll "probably" draft a quarterback.
With all the attention on the Steelers about drafting a quarterback, Tomlin compared it to last year when the Steelers were doing their due diligence on the running back position, which ended up in Najee Harris coming to Pittsburgh at No. 24 overall.
"I enjoy the process of having heightened urgency for a position," Tomlin said. "Seemed like a year ago we chopped up the running backs in a similar way. I know that the process we've gone through in terms of getting to know the quarterback pool is getting some attention, but it's not an irregular process for us in terms of, you know, locking in and getting a feel for a certain pool within the pool, if you will."
When asked what's the top trait in a quarterback, Tomlin said he's looking for a competitor.
"I think that is the ultimate competitor's position," Tomlin said. "Those who run to and not away from competition, those who embrace competition and the intensity of it, and the anxiety maybe associated with it, I think they have a leg up. Obviously, there are some pedigree-related things to the position, such as arm strength and accuracy. That's evident. Either it's present or it's not. The intangible quality associated with competition I think is something that's valuable."