Leave it to the Pittsburgh Steelers to cast one of the widest nets in searching for the replacement for outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert.
The Steelers interviewed 18 candidates for the position during the first round of the process that began in late January and extended into March. With the draft completed and Colbert’s contract expiring on May 31, the process is intensifying with a second round of interviews.
While Colbert was heavily involved in the initial interviews, he said he will now be detached from the process handled by Steelers owner Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin.
“Art and Coach will do the interviews from this point forward,” Colbert told USA TODAY Sports. “It will be ultimately Art’s decision.”
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The slate includes two promote-from-within prospects – Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt – among 14 candidates currently working for NFL teams. Khan is the Steelers’ vice president of football and business administration; Hunt is the pro scouting director. Both Hunt and Khan are expected to receive second interviews.
Among the four candidates not currently attached to a team is Louis Riddick, the ESPN analyst who recently served as the commencement speaker at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. Riddick, whose last NFL post was in 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles as pro personnel director, seemed to politic – or at least awkwardly drop a hint about the possibility – during the end of his speech to the graduates when emphasizing the need to reinvent themselves.
“My career may take another change,” Riddick told the graduates. “Just stay tuned. You never know. Pittsburgh is home to me. Maybe it will be home once again.”
Then again, the Steelers also have three former GMs to consider: Jerry Reese, who helped build two Super Bowl winners with the New York Giants; Rick Spielman, recently ousted from his second GM position with the Minnesota Vikings; and Doug Whaley, the vice president of personnel for the XFL who previously served as Buffalo Bills and worked 10 years as pro scouting coordinator with the Steelers.
Other candidates, in no particular order, from the first round:
- John Spytek, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vice president of personnel
- Joe Hortiz, Baltimore Ravens director of college scouting
- Andy Weidl, Philadelphia Eagles director of personnel
- Morocco Brown, Indianapolis Colts, director of scouting
- Ran Carthon, San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel
- JoJo Wooden, Los Angeles Rams director of player personnel
- Ed Dobbs, Indianapolis Colts assistant GM
- John Wojciechowski, Green Bay Packers co-director of personnel
- Dan Morgan, Carolina Panthers assistant GM
- Ryan Cowden, Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel
It’s fitting that the Steelers are wading through such a deep pool of candidates. The spirit behind the NFL’s Rooney Rule, named after the late Dan Rooney, is to open up the hiring process for key NFL positions. And with such a vast lineup of candidates, the Steelers are demonstrating just that.