‘See what life takes’: Kevin Colbert finishes up the final draft as Pittsburgh Steelers GM – Pittsburgh Steelers blog

PITTSBURGH — Kevin Colbert, late Saturday afternoon, started the clock as the last time. Steelers‘ general manager.

The No. With the No. NFL draftColbert and Steelers select South Dakota State quarterback Chris Oladokun.

There weren’t any tears in the draft room, no sentimental moment of reflection as Colbert submitted the pick.

But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

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

Colbert was speaking to the media following the conclusion of his 23rd draft as Steelers' general manager and his 10th as an official general manager. Colbert admitted that emotions will soon overtake him but that in the moment he was just trying to keep things running as normal.

“It'll hit you a little bit later,” Colbert said. “But it's like a game; when the game comes to an end, you appreciate it and you think about it, but you really will reflect on it when it gets quiet and you're by yourself and it's like, oh, wait a minute, what do I got to do next? I don't know.”

However, that moment of silent reflection arrived sooner than we expected. Colbert, who was part of two Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh teams, was then asked three questions.

“I don’t want to say ‘better than,’” he said. “I’m proud that we’ve added to that room.”

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

“There was four trophies.”

Tomlin reached over 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 task.”

Colbert looked at the table, trying to keep his tears from coming, but Tomlin comforted him.

“It’s all right, brother,” the coach said.

Colbert took a deep inhale and continued.

“You think about DMR [late Steelers chairman Dan Rooney], being able to add to that room means a ton,” Colbert said. “It doesn’t mean it’s over. The next step, we’ve got to get more than. We’ll never lose that. But it means a lot.”

Colbert’s right. While his tenure as general manager is over, the Steelers’ organization — and its mission — continues. Colbert made sure that the Steelers were ready for success in his final draft.

He drafted the future quarterback in Pitt. Kenny Pickett, the organization’s first first-round quarterback since selecting Ben RoethlisbergerIn 2004, he also restocked Georgia's wide receiver room with high-quality players. George PickensMemphis 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 roster — Connor — to fill a versatile role in Matt Canada’s offense.

“This was the final draft for general manager Kevin Colbert, and he did a nice job plugging holes,” ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. wrote in his post-draft analysis. “If Pickett becomes a star, Colbert might have set up the Steelers for the next 15 years with this group.”

The fruits of Colbert's labor won’t be fully known for a while, but he delivered players to fill the most glaring holes on the roster, the ones that didn’t get complete answers in free agency.

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

Colbert must hope that this group will be better than the 2000 draft, when the Steelers selected Plaxico Burress as wide receiver with their first round selection. Marvel Smith, second-round offensive tackle lineman, was the only member of that nine-member draft group to make it to the Pro Bowl. Smith also won two Super Bowl rings. Burress won one for the New York Giants.

Colbert will resume his role as general manager after the draft is over. After having interviewed 16 candidates, including Brandon Hunt and Omar Khan, the Steelers will likely begin the second round of interviews.

“We'll move into that process, whatever the next step is, when Art [Rooney] decides to continue that search, and we'll see where it goes and how I may or may not be able to fit into it,” Colbert said. “I just want to make sure that, again — I've said it before — whatever the next step is, if I can help and not hinder, great.”

Colbert attempted to carry on as normal the night following the draft.

“I'll go back down to the room and make sure we get the free agents all wrapped up and button things up for tonight and go home and spend time with Janice, my wife,” Colbert said Saturday evening. “And see where life goes.”

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