Non-Athletes Need Not Apply
For many years, the Steelers seemingly prioritized college production and character over raw athletic traits in the NFL Draft, especially in the early rounds. However, this strategy came back to bite them in a major way with Jarvis Jones. After that, Pittsburgh focused almost exclusively on athletic traits for their first-round pick.
Given how the 2023 draft class played out, I wonder if Khan was behind the team’s shift toward focusing on athleticism. Look at the Relative Athletic Scores of every player the Steelers selected.
Furthermore, look at the most recent classes.
Looking at this trend toward focusing on athleticism, I would hypothesize that as Khan took on a bigger role in the scouting and player personnel department and as Kevin Colbert moved closer to retirement, athletic ability took on greater importance.
Furthermore, one could expect that Andy Weidl’s influence played a role in this shift. Look at the Eagles’ draft classes over the last few years.
Now, do the Steelers actually use RAS specifically? Perhaps not. But given the trend, it’s fair to assume that they have a somewhat similar formula for evaluating athleticism relative to size. Furthermore, it’s clear they are putting more weight on that formula when evaluating players and deciding which ones to add to the team.