INDIANAPOLIS -- Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is approaching his 30th NFL draft. None offered more depth than the Class of 2014. But there is also a downside.
"I fear it's also the most immature," Colbert said Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine speaking to media at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Steelers are considering using additional resources on the player development side of their organization to steer incoming rookies. Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin first will complete evaluations of prospects.
A major piece of that puzzle falls into place this week, when the Steelers -- and all NFL teams -- are granted interviews with 60 prospects over the course of the four-day event.
"It's an ongoing process. You talk to their college coaches, personal liaisons. How they handle the private interviews is huge. It's a huge leap. I don't think a lot of them understand it until they actually get on the playing field and see the increase in the quality of play.
"The emotional part of being a college kid and getting on the field and one day being a pro is significant."
Many of the top 2014 prospects are underclassmen -- a record number left school with eligibility remaining in hopes of being drafted -- and several of NFLDraftScout.com's prospects with an elite rating also carry character questions.
No. 1-ranked defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, a junior, is chided for a marginal work ethic and questioned about his love of the game. He also was cited for excessive speeding violations twice in December. There are well-documented maturity doubts to wade through when formulating a final grade for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, another projected top-five pick.
"A big part of the evaluation is what they do in big moments," Colbert said. "For quarterbacks, what are they doing on third down? For a pass rusher, what are they doing when you need a sack? ... What are they doing in big moments?"
Colbert said the scouting department is working to remove the emotion of the hype and evaluate to make decisions based largely on football but without discounting maturity level.
"They'll grow physically," Colbert said. "But if you fail emotionally early, it can be career-ending."