Omar Khan Hopes He’s ‘Learned A Few Things’ About Drafting WRs From Colbert: ‘Kevin Was A Great Evaluator’
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for another wide receiver, because, well, they always are. It’s rare that they don’t draft a wide receiver in any given year, though that’s also true of most teams. The position is just one that turns over often. But few have the reputation the Steelers do for scouting, drafting, and developing the position.
Just how valid that reputation is, or to what degree, is fair to debate, but nevertheless, they have a fine track record. And who deserves the lion’s share of the credit for it? According to Steelers general manager Omar Khan, it’s his predecessor, Kevin Colbert.
“He’s been doing it for so long. Hopefully I learned a few things from him and we can continue that. But that’s all Kevin”, he told Mike Florio and Chris Simms last week for Pro Football Talk. “I can tell you it was Kevin. Kevin was a great evaluator”.
Colbert was the Steelers’ general manager or equivalent for more than two decades, through the 2022 NFL Draft. Khan was under him for virtually that entire period before earning the promotion to general manager himself.
As you might imagine, Colbert was frequently asked the same question himself, but he always deferred credit. Like Khan, however, he often had one name in mind in particular. He would credit former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for making so many of their receivers look as good as they did.
Of course, they did have a good many talented receivers over the past 15-20 years, including Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Martavis Bryant. Some didn’t work out as well as might have been hoped, like Limas Sweed, Markus Wheaton, and James Washington. Nobody bats 1.000, as they say.
George Pickens and Calvin Austin III made up a key part of Colbert’s final draft as general manager. The former had a very encouraging rookie season as a second-round pick, while the latter unfortunately spent the year on the Reserve/Injured List.
This offseason will mark Khan’s first real opportunity to put his stamp on this roster, which could include making decisions on which receivers to keep. Steven Sims is a restricted free agent, while Miles Boykin is unrestricted. He already traded Chase Claypool in-season.
“We have certain characteristics that were important to us at that position. I can’t discuss them publicly, obviously”, Khan said, something Colbert would also frequently say, though if you really take a look at it you can begin to build a profile.
The interesting thing this offseason, of course, will be to see if or how they deviate from the expected. It’s not even a guarantee that they will draft a wide receiver if the board simply doesn’t break that way. But the odds are they will come away with at least one.