INDIANAPOLIS - A 30-year veteran of scouting and evaluating college players, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert isn't prone to hyperbole.
"I've been doing this for 30 years," Colbert said at the NFL Scouting Combine This is the deepest draft I've ever seen. We felt that way ... even before the underclassmen came in. Even during the fall, our scouts talked about the senior class being a good class and we don't know what the junior class is going to be. The juniors added into it to make it a very talented group."
The 2014 NFL Draft features a record 102 underclassmen, 85 of which were invited to the combine. With the amount of underclassmen, Colbert said he may have to enhance his team's player development system to get the most out of the players.
"The one thing we talk about with these underclassmen is that we're very cautiously optimistic about their emotional and physical readiness for this," Colbert said. "Even though this is the most talented group I've seen, I'm worried this is the most immature group."
That was a theme shared by Tennessee Titans general manager Ruston Webster. While there's obviously a physical difference in college football to the NFL, Colbert stressed the importance of a player's emotions.
"Experience has told us a lot of these players aren't ready for this," Colbert said. "It's a huge leap. I don't think a lot of them understand that until they get onto a playing field and see the increase in quality of play. That's the physical part. The emotional part of being a college kid and the next day being a professional, I think it's a little easier to transition from your senior year to the pros.
"They're grow physically. But if you fail emotionally early, it can be overwhelming and sometimes career ending."