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Mike Tomlin on who has the final say in a draft pick: 'Mr. Rooney’s the boss'


(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)


It's always interesting to hear how draft selections are made. Is it the head coach, general manager, or the owner who has the final say, and how do they come up with a consensus agreement? It's a year-long process for teams to compile as much information as possible on prospects, so by the time a team is on the clock, there really isn't much of a debate. They follow the rankings on their boards and that's how they come up with a decision.


Generally, owners have the final say on a draft pick. It all depends on the situation though. The late Dan Rooney famously convinced Bill Cowher to draft Ben Roethlisberger at 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, as he didn't want the Steelers to make the same mistake like in 1983 when they didn't draft Pittsburgh's own Dan Marino and selected defensive tackle Gabriel Rivera at 21st overall instead. Cowher and Kevin Colbert reportedly were ready to draft Arkansas guard Shawn Andrews with the No. 11 pick.


“When our turn came, I couldn’t bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to Roethlisberger. After some more talk, we came to a consensus and picked Roethlisberger,” Rooney said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Andrews went to the Eagles with the No. 16 pick, but injuries cut his career short and he played just seven seasons in the league.




“Mr. Rooney’s the boss,” Tomlin said at the pre-draft press conference when asked who decides on a draft pick if there's a debate. “Kevin and I have worked so well and so long together that we can kind of communicate nonverbally in those moments. But at the end of the day, Art Rooney is the boss.”


Colbert followed up by saying Rooney is actively involved in the draft process and is aware of what is going on, but he has faith in Tomlin and Colbert.


“Of course Art will be involved because he is the owner and he knows every step of the process," Colbert said. "He sits in on meetings when he can, he gives us input when he can and when he wants to, and of course we’re going to follow those leads, but I think he trusts us."



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