INDIANAPOLIS -- Steelers GM Kevin Colbert thinks this year's draft class is the deepest he's seen, but it's also the most immature class he's evaluated in his 30 years in the profession.
"Experience has told us that a lot of these younger players aren't ready for this," Colbert said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "It's a huge leap. I don't think a lot of them understand that until they actually get on a playing field and see the increase in the quality of play."
He's hinted before that this year's class is heavy with players unready for the NFL, but this was strongest critique yet of the group.
"We have to be prepared for more player development-type programs or maybe enhancing your player development so as to get the most out of these younger players."
With a record number of underclassmen declaring for this year's draft, it won't be a surprise to hear other personnel executives share similar views during the week in Indy.
Many of the underclassmen, including Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel, are among the highest-rated prospects available this year, and the juniors and redshirt sophomores that declared will be getting a particularly close look from teams at the combine. Given their shorter careers, there's less game tape available to evaluate than there is for seniors, and that means more work during the draft process for general managers to find out just what they're getting in a younger prospect.