Pittsburgh Steelers value interviews and visits in pre-draft process

The importance of pre-draft visits that teams are allowed to host with out of area prospects is often questioned.

But they can't be dismissed, and not just because four of the Pittsburgh Steelers' first five picks last year also visited them in advance of the draft.

General manager Kevin Colbert said the Steelers rarely draft a prospect that he or coach Mike Tomlin hasn't interviewed, which shows the value they place on getting to know a player personally.

"We try to touch base with as many as we can," Colbert said.

There are plenty of chances for teams to do so aside from hosting players for pre-draft visits -- from the Senior Bowl and NFL scouting combine to pro day workouts and other campus visits.

That component of the evaluation process has helped the Steelers to assemble a draft board that will have more than 200 players on it.

And Colbert said the Steelers are usually able to make all of their picks from among the top 120 players on their board.

It will be interesting to see how many of the players the Steelers draft -- they have eight overall picks -- also visited them in Pittsburgh.

Last year inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (first-round pick), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (second round), wide receiver Martavis Bryant (fourth round) and cornerback Shaquille Richardson (fifth round) all paid pre-draft visits to the Steelers.

So did linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (sixth round) and tight end Rob Blanchflower (seventh round).

Here, again, is the list out of area prospects who visited the Steelers:

DE/OLB Eli Harold, Virginia

DE/OLB Nate Orchard, Utah

CB Senquez Golson, Mississippi

TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn

CB Marcus Peters, Washington

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

DE/OLB Max Valles, Virginia

WR Breshad Perriman, UCF

QB Tyler Murphy, Boston College

TE Wes Saxton, South Alabama

WR Sammie Coates, Auburn

TE Cameron Clear, Texas A&M

G Quinton Spain, West Virginia

TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State

TE Kennard Backman, UAB

DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State

DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska

WR Devin Gardner, Michigan

WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State

CB Steven Nelson, Oregon State

CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall

CB Bryce Callahan, Rice

CB Eric Rowe, Utah

CB Doran Grant, Ohio State

DE/OLB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State

S Landon Collins, Alabama

DE Preston Smith, Mississippi State:

DE/OLB: Davis Tull, Tennessee-Chattanooga

CB Dexter McDonald, Kansas