12:14 a.m.: Highlights from GM Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin comments to the media after taking Artie Burns in the first round-
- Colbert: “He put himself as one of the top corners in this draft class. We’re really starting to see this draft class with the corners coming together… We started to get a feel this was a really strong corner class.”
- Tomlin: “He has a lot of growth potential. We’re excited about the upsides. He’s a natural at bump corner… He’s good at the ball, he’s good with the ball down the field… He has elite speed… He can get things going for us in 2016.”
- KC: “This is one kid that when you really started to study him, he was as natural in bump-and-run coverage as any of the corners in this draft.”
- KC: “In the NFL right now, there are bug receivers. When you look for the corner and you can find someone with that kind of length and that kind of athleticism — and you couple that with the six interceptions (last season), that was very, very impressive.”
- KC: “It was a really easy (pick to make). It was breaking pretty tight, quite honestly. We really felt that we had a good chance to get a corner. It was quality from top to bottom. There is still quality left at that position… We were fortunate that he made it to us.”
12:07 a. m.: Highlights from Artie Burns’ first comments as a Steeler, to the Pittsburgh media over the phone-
- “(The Steelers) are the team I wanted to go to… Tomlin was one of the coolest coaches I met. Players wanna play for him.”
- “I known about the Steelers defense since I was young. I’ve known the whole Steelers team since I was young. I always idolized them.”
- On losing his mother this past year: “It was difficult at first… It hurt, but it’s just something you’ve got to deal with, and make you stronger.”
- “The Steelers are known as a tough, bend-but-don’t-break defense — and I’m that kind of guy.”
- On Mike Tomlin: “He’s just got so much swag to him that that’s just something you wanna have in a head coach.”
11:49 p.m.: Artie Burns college highlights-
Artie Burns high school highlights-
11:42 p.m.: We’ve heard from Colbert and Tomlin and are awaiting to talk to newest Steeler CB Artie Burns over the phone. Colbert talked up the depth of the secondary in this year’s draft and lauded the character, size, speed and ball skills (ACC-high 6 INTs last season) of Burns.
Highlights from the NFL.com official draft page for Burns include: “Premium athlete with long, angular build and preferred blend of size and speed… natural ball skills to flip the field… Will bait quarterbacks into trap throws… Possesses brash, cocky demeanor. Length and physicality from press can be extremely disruptive. Burst on the throw is NFL-worthy… Usually finishes when he makes contact as tackler.”
Negatives from his NFL official draft bio: “Tape isn’t his best friend. Extremely raw and undisciplined. Leggy and grabby in routes… Turns motor off and on from game to game, and play can be lackadaisical… Would like to see him attack blockers rather than waiting for running back before disengaging.”
10:57 p.m.: The Steelers pick is in. Miami (Fla.) CB Artie Burns.
Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin at the podium now. Updates to come…
10:41 p.m.: A run on wide receivers has left the Steelers within striking distance of Houston CB William Jackson III being on the board — that’s a player they liked enough on tape to go out to dinner with during a visit to his Pro Day.
Now that I said that, I’m sure they’ll now go another direction with their pick (if he’s still there)…
10:14 p.m.: After Paulk and Adamski took a break for ribs and wings (the Penguins game was on one of the TVs in the cafe)… the Steelers’ mock first round pick in Adamski’s mock draft was taken well before the Steelers picked.
Overall, five defensive backs were taken among the first 17 picks (including something of a surprise in Keanu Neal going at No. 17 to Atlanta).
That leaves just William Jackson III, Artie Burns, Mackensie Alexander (and, perhaps Vonn Bell) as DB’s who could possibly make sense at No. 25. Otherwise, The Streak continues…
9:38 p.m.: It’s of little secret that the Steelers haven’t taken a cornerback in the first round in a long, long time… And many are predicting that they will this year. But part of those predictions are based in the fact that there are up to six first-round-worthy cornerbacks (if you count Jalen Ramsey). But with Eli Apple surprisingly going to the Giants at No. 10, it has meant that three cornerbacks (if you count Ramsey as one and not a safety) are off the board over the first 11 picks. That leaves only William Jackson III, Artie Burns and Mackensie Alexander as possible CB options for the Steelers at No. 25…. with 13 picks to go to get there.
9:10 p.m.: After making a trade with the Titans, the Browns (a division rival of the Steelers, remember — and one that won’t be a laughingstock forever, so at some point Cleveland’s move indeed do affect the Steelers) now have 15 picks in this year’s draft, plus extra first- and second-rounders next year and an extra fourth-rounder the year after that…
8:44 p.m.: Ohio State players go both No. 3 and No. 4 overall. Many more will have their name called both tonight and this weekend. The NFL’s official site lists 15 players, and five (or six) could/should be drafted in the first round.
Anyway, the Cowboys taking Buckeyes RB Ezekiel Elliott opened up the player who in my humble opinion is the best overall in this draft — FSU S/CB Jalen Ramsey – to fall to the home-state Jaguars at No. 5.
8:32: Well, any thoughts that Kaboly and Adamski were going to toss the perfect game in terms of mocking the first round are gone at Pick No. 3. The Chargers take Ohio State edge rusher Joey Bosa over our projected Jalen Ramsey. The first of many, many Buckeyes to have their name be called tonight and this weekend…
8:15 p.m.: The Rams announced they had traded for the top pick in the draft on the morning of April 14. They leaked later that day that they agreed to the deal the night before but did not announce it out of respect fro Kobe Bryant’s final game. Anyway, that was approximately 21,600 minutes prior to the draft starting. They had that much time to debate — if they hadn’t already — who they were going to take. And yet they needed almost the full 10 minutes allotted tonight to make their pick: JARED GOFF.
7:48 p.m.: Legendary Bill Hillgrove about to go on the air live from the facility along with Steelers Nation Radio producer Ryan Tobin. You’ll notice they are watching the hockey game…
7:42 p.m.: I’d be remiss if I didn’t get everyone ready by linking to today’s exhaustive draft coverage in the Trib.
- Mark Kaboly says this is FINALLY the year the Steeleers take a cornerback in the first round
- Kaboly, Chris Adamski and Ralph Paulk each provide full, seven-round mock drafts for the Steelers’ picks
- Adamski with the final of the 11 positional previews/breakdowns for the draft: the SAFETIES
- Paulk with a feature on the first safety who will go off the board tonight (unless you wanna refer to this guy as a cornerback), Jalen Ramsey
- Adamski and Kaboly mock the full first round
- Finally… links to EVERYTHING we’ve written on the draft over the past month or so
Welcome to tonight’s LIVE BLOG of NFL Draft Night here at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Media types from myriad of outlets are here (rumor had it the free meal ended at 7 p.m., after all), and so are little-seen Steelers scouts. Team general manager Kevin Colbert is dressed in a shirt and tie (he sort of laughed and turned away when I asked him if it was because he will candidly be on TV tonight for the first time). So are media relations czars Burt Lauten, Ryan Scarpino and Dom Rinelli, though that is hardly out of character for them. There’s already been some discussions among the media if the Penguins-Capitals game will make it on a TV somewhere. (It won’t). And as we’ve been reminded, this is 2016, so any hockey fans here will deal.
Anyway, I honestly don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud to say this… but I have never actually executed a **live blog** of an event. So bear with me. We’ll (I say, “we,” because the great Mark Kaboly is alongside) will break down some picks, provide commentary of how a particular pick or draft development might affect the Steelers, perhaps do some scene-setting of what’s going here at team headquarters (no, we’re not allowed in the draft so-called “war room” — and team official media policy bans photos of anything outside the media room or even on-the-record conversations with team personnel). But most of all, we’ll try to have some fun. So read along…