Worried about underclassmen

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert (USA Today)

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert expressed concerns Thursday about the high number of underclassmen involved in the 2014 NFL Draft.

INDIANAPOLIS – Underclassmen continue to flood each successive NFL Draft in record numbers, and while the talent and upside remain there with these younger players, at least one league general manager is concerned with the overall readiness of juniors and redshirt sophomores making the jump.

After bragging on the overall quality and quantity of the 2014 Draft pool, Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert expressed doubts about the masses of underclassmen making the transition Thursday morning at the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft Combine.

"I've been doing this for 30 years, and this is the deepest draft I've ever seen," Colbert leveled. "Even during the fall, before the underclassmen came in, our guys were talking about this class.

"The juniors added into it make it a very talented group. But the one thing that we talk about these underclassmen is we're very cautiously optimistic about their emotional and physical readiness for this. Even though this is the most talented group I've ever seen, I'm also worried it's the most immature group."

Sifting through the high number of non-seniors is just one more challenge for NFL executives this time of year, and Colbert acknowledged the evaluation process is more difficult with the younger players.

"It's an ongoing process. You talk to their coaches, personal liaisons," explained Colbert. "The personal interviews are huge. It's an educated guess, and we just keep our fingers crossed. But experience tells us a lot of these younger players aren't ready for this."

Part of the formula for success, Colbert continued, is finding a way to remove emotions from the decision-making process, something that can be harder when the hype machine is going crazy around talented, younger players that have enjoyed immediate but short-lived success on the collegiate level.

"The information is endless, and it can be overwhelming if you let it. You still have to go by what you're seeing when they play," Colbert said. "You have to be true to your evaluations of the film, games, practices. You can't get caught up in the buzz with players. You have to remove emotions. Hype is great. It helps make our league what it is, but you have to (take it out) when selecting players."

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