Mike-Tomlin UMT

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft that will be held April 28-30 at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University in Chicago.

The Steelers have a total of seven selections in the 81st Annual Draft, including their own selection in each of the Draft’s first four rounds and also in round seven. The team has a compensatory pick in the sixth round, and a seventh-round slot acquired from the New York Giants. This is the seventh time in league history the NFL will conduct a three-day draft and the 23rd consecutive year for the seven-round format with a total of 253 draft picks.

The Draft begins Thursday, April 28, at 8 p.m., and only the first round will be completed on the first day. The second and third rounds will take place on Friday, April 29, beginning at 7 p.m. The final four rounds will take place on Saturday, April 30, beginning at Noon. Teams are allotted 10 minutes for each selection in the first round and seven minutes in the second round. Five minutes are permitted for the third through sixth rounds. Four minutes will be allowed between selections in the seventh round and for all compensatory selections.

The Steelers have had a longstanding philosophy of drafting the ‘Best Player Available’. Especially with their first overall pick. While the media and fans alike are hoping that they draft a Cornerback in the first Round, it’s never guaranteed that the Steelers will agree. And at a special news conference hosted by Head Coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert, it still wasn’t exactly revealed if they will fill that hole in the secondary…or not.

“We try to base our pick on the quantity as well as the quality.’ sad Colbert ” Between the NFL Combine and the Pro Day visits, we’ve probably interviewed over 120 guys. We’ve said at the Combine, that this is a defensive draft, and we’ve seen nothing lately to change our minds. We think it’s strong defensively especially up front and in the secondary.”

Regarding the secondary: ” In my eyes, we still have a good set of guys back there” Said Colbert. “They were good enough to get us one step away from the AFC Championship Game. Some of those guys have moved on. So we have a few good guys there, we want to enhance it and add more good players.”

Colbert continued ” Guys like William Gay, Ross Cockrell stepped up in key situations and did some good things for us. We lost some good players in free agency so we’re looking to add more and we believe this draft will give us the best opportunity.”

When asked about the experience level behind Gay and Cockrell, Colbert replied “I think there’s some comfort in having William Gay who’s a professional as a starter, a backup. Is it a still a good market for those guys? Not right now, but they’re probably will be after teams draft and release players and can we make it fit from a cap standpoint. But we won’t know these type of things until after the draft.”

Tomlin replied “We’ll put a capable secondary on the field. I’m not really concerned about that. Those guys did an exceptional job last season. We have some questions in that area. Questions are a part of this process. We’re excited about the group we’re putting together and their ability to perform.”

The Steelers released CB Cortez Allen a few weeks ago, saving $4 million, and lost Antwon Blake to free agency.

Colbert talked about CB Senquez Gholston, the Steelers 2nd round pick from last year having a significant impact on this year’s draft for the Steelers “We’ve talked about him really being a part of this year’s draft class as opposed to last year obviously in part that he never got on the field due to a shoulder injury.

When asked about what Golston has done to be ready for 2016, Tomlin replied ” You know, we can sit around and speculate over what he’s done in the offseason, but we will truly know when he starts playing. Then we will see the differences between him and the ‘first exposure guys.’ Golston should stick out based on what he’s learned with us, and he’ll have an opportunity to display that.”

When asked whether a CB or Safety is more valuable to the Steelers, Tomlin replied “I think it depends on the guys. I don’t think we can get into those hypothetical conversations without talking about the details of every guy-instead of just focusing on the position.”

The last time the Steelers drafted a CB #1 it was Chad Scott in 1997. Before that, Deon Figures in 1993. Before that, HOF Rod Woodson in 1987. It’s no surprise where the Steelers hit the jackpot with those last 3 picks.

Many media outlets are projecting the Steelers to draft CB Eli Apple from Ohio State, Mackenzie Alexander or S Karl Joseph from West Virginia. There’s even some who may think that they may pick up a DE, TE or even a Nose Tackle with their first round pick.

When asked about what’s important regarding a nose tackle for their defense after the departure of Steve McClendon, Colbert replied “We’re still abase 3-4 defense and NT is still part of the defense. But the nose tackle’s importance probably has diminished because of the formations of 4-5 WR sets, but there will be times that the defense still has to stop the run.”

As for the possibility of trading up Colbert said “Trading up will be unlikely, due to not having enough pick and it’s also expensive, but there is the possibility of trading back.”

For the Steelers to succeed this season, it will hinge on the the health and success of their offense, but the improvement of their defense. In Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos proved that Defense still wins championships and the Steelers 6 Super Bowl wins were based off some of the best defenses in NFL history.

The Steelers say their goal every season is to win a Super Bowl, something that they haven’t been to since 2010 and haven’t won since 2008. Despite of all their injuries, they were surprisingly close last season, we expect them to do what it takes to get closer this season. And like in years past, it will begin with this draft.

“There’s only 25 spots to be picked. We’re going to get a good player at #25.” Said Colbert

Notes: For the 11th consecutive year, two networks will be televising the Draft in its entirety. NFL Network, which is airing the Draft for the 10th time, will televise all three days of the Draft while ESPN/ESPN2 will continue their annual coverage of the entire draft through its conclusion. Additionally, the Steelers’ official web site (www.steelers.com) and NFL.com will have exclusive coverage and behind-the-scenes features. Steelers Nation Radio and ESPN 970, as well as Sirius NFL Radio will broadcast the entire draft as well.

Twenty-five top prospects are confirmed to attend the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago…In 80 previous Drafts, the Steelers have selected in the first round in all but seven…Seven of last year’s eight Steelers draft selections are currently on the roster…Dating back to 2010, the Steelers have selected 12 players in the first and second round and 11 are on the current roster.

Please e-mail ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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