Steelers GM Kevin Colbert plans big things with draft ‘ammunition’

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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has 10 picks in the upcoming draft, which could allow for movement. Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, coupled with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first playoff miss since 2013, places Colbert squarely in the spotlight.

The man armed with 10 draft picks doesn’t seem to mind at all. The Steelers appear open for business.

“Right now we have to establish who we are in 2019. 2018 is history,” Colbert told a group of Pittsburgh-area reporters at the owners meetings on Sunday. “We don’t like being in a position where we’re not a playoff team. That’s not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.”7

It’s up to Pittsburgh to replenish the roster. And though Colbert said the team got three free agents with starting experience in corner Steven Nelson, receiver Donte Moncrief and linebacker Mark Barron, this draft marks one of the most crucial of Colbert’s nearly decade-long tenure as general manager.

The Steelers need a receiver weapon to offset the loss of Brown, a long-term solution at inside linebacker, and a palatable stable of cornerbacks after some undeniable misses.

The Steelers drafted five corners in the top five rounds from 2015 to ’17 and have no projected starters to show for it. Nelson and Joe Haden were both added in free agency. Developing a corner into a starter should be a primary goal. The Steelers also have had mixed results with drafting pass-rushers in the first round.

To be sure, the Steelers are one of the most consistent teams on draft day. Three picks from the same class — running back James Conner, linebacker T.J. Watt and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster — were on the same Pro Bowl roster in January. The Steelers’ reputation for drafting receivers is unmatched. But there are holes to fill thanks to a few misses, which happen to every team.