Just like that, the Kevin Colbert era has essentially come to a close. Yesterday wrapped up Colbert’s final draft as Steelers’ GM, the last major task on his docket before stepping down from the position. Next on the Steelers’ agenda will be trying to fill those shoes. ESPN Analyst Louis Riddick is one of the 16 men part of the first round of interviews to replace him. Serving as Pitt University’s Keynote Speaker today, Riddick briefly talked about his initial conversation with the team via the Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko.
“Kevin, meeting him at the combine — I interviewed with him and Mr. Rooney in Indianapolis — he’s such a down-to-earth, every-man type of person that understands even after all this time and as successful as he’s been, he still understands what he’s real good at and what he still would want to get good at if he were still in that position,” he told Batko.
Earlier this offseason, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Riddick interviewed with the Steelers during the Combine, a perfect chance to meet face-to-face with the entire NFL converging on Indy as the one true draft hub. At the time, the reporting made it unclear if it was a first or second interview but the Steelers’ search, and Riddick comments here, strongly hint it was the first and only interview so far. Riddick has been on TV for years but has plenty of experience working in NFL front offices, spending over a decade in the league, including four years as the Philadelphia Eagles Director of Pro Personnel.
But Riddick has roots in Pittsburgh, too. It’s where he played his college ball and became a NFL draft pick, though his career was short-lived. Kevin Colbert knew the Steelers’ culture growing up here and returning to the city following a decade in Detroit. Hiring Riddick would have a similar feel.
“Everyone knows what my connection is to [Pitt] and this city — what that would mean for me, what that would mean for my family and how it would be kind of like a full-circle moment for me,” he said.
The timeline in which Art Rooney II will hire Colbert’s replacement is unclear, though it makes sense for such a move to occur by the end of the month. The team still has to go through a second set of interviews with whoever they deem as finalists. At that point, Mike Tomlin will be more involved in the process and the interview will be less a get-to-know-you and more of the nitty gritty of how the Steelers would be run. Riddick praised the Steelers’ draft and selections of Kenny Pickett and Connor Heyward in particular, noting Rooney has stayed true to his all-in-the-family mentality. The Steelers, of course, have been family run since their inaugural 1933 season. Riddick told Batko he hopes Pittsburgh is again the place he calls home.
In no rush this offseason, Pittsburgh has searched far and wide for their next GM. Sixteen men have been interviewed. Fourteen of them, Riddick included, have been external, though several have ties to the team or the city. Two others are in-house, Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt. Throughout this process, Hunt has been viewed as a frontrunner but there’s no guarantee he’s the guy, especially with so much other competition.