Though it’s been believed for awhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed that they have hired former Steelers CB Ike Taylor and RB Merril Hoge as members of their scouting department. In the latest episode of the team’s ongoing series “The Standard,” which focused on the NFL Combine and draft season, Taylor and Hoge were highlighted as two new additions.
“[Omar Khan] recently added two Steelers alumni to the scouting department,” the voiceover said, “former cornerback Ike Taylor and former running back Merril Hoge, who both joined the staff in October.”
Taylor’s addition has been known for even longer. Joining The Pat McAfee Show last August, Taylor said he was joining the team’s scouting department.
“I’m going to be working for the Burgh,” Taylor told McAfee. “For Six-Burgh. Scouting has always been a dream of mine.”
Taylor has been a busy man this offseason, reportedly at this year’s Hula Bowl while we also spotted him with the rest of the Steelers’ coaching and scouting staff at the 2023 Senior Bowl. Taylor still dabbles in the media, hosting a weekly show with Mark Bergin, and it appears he primarily focuses on scouting cornerbacks.
We got the sense Hoge had some sort of role earlier this year. He joined the Steelers’ scouts at the Senior Bowl and we saw Hoge at Texas’ Pro Day earlier in the month, checking out their top running backs in Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. At the time, we wondered if Hoge had taken on a formal role.
In today’s episode, Khan spoke to the value both men brought.
“Merril and Ike, they’ve been great to have around,” he said. “One of the things, for me, that I always found was when you had former players, we’ve had Mark Bruener and Chidi Iwuoma in our draft room, but whenever you have former players around, when you talk about certain things, when you talk about certain players, they have perspective we on the personnel side we might not have.”
As Khan notes, the team has several former players on their scouting staff. Bruener and Iwuoma are both former Steelers who have been scouts for years. Iwuoma is currently a West/Southwest Area Scout while Bruener recently shifted regions from the West to the Midwest.
Hoge and Taylor’s roles don’t currently appear on the Steelers.com front office page. But they are officially on-staff and have been for months. While both lean into the position they played, Hoge says his work this draft season goes beyond the running backs.
“I’ve been evaluating for almost 30 years, almost every position. I’ve watched nearly 150 guys at this point. I’ll have 200 done, maybe 250 by the time the draft comes around.”
Before joining the Steelers, Hoge was a long-time analyst for ESPN, breaking things down across the NFL each week. He was part of the niche X’s and O’s show NFL Matchup, an All-22 tape session for diehard fans. It had the world’s worst time slots, literally airing around 2 AM, but was a football crash course led by the likes of Ron Jaworski, Greg Cosell, and Hoge.
Since being hired as GM, Khan has made plenty of moves to the scouting staff. Some names have gone, some have been hired, and some have seen promotions. He’s wisely putting intelligent people around him who know the game as well as anyone, helping to make up for his lack of a hardcore football background. That’s what a good GM does. He shouldn’t be the smartest man in the room, and he should recognize his strengths and weaknesses in order to do what’s best for the team. Above all, Khan shares one of Kevin Colbert’s greatest traits: humility. And that’ll give Pittsburgh the greatest chance to succeed.