Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recently completed his 15th draft with the organization and while several of the fifth-round selections that he’s made during that span managed to make the 53 man roster out of training camp as rookies, finding a player that can contribute heavily has been tough.
This year, Colbert drafted cornerback Shaquille Richardson and offensive lineman Wesley Johnson in the fifth round with the hopes that both can contribute long-term. History, however, is against them both becoming full-time contributors.
Here is a look back at the history of Colbert’s fifth-round selections.
2000 – Colbert’s first of two fifth-round selections, linebacker Clark Haggans, made the final 53 man roster and while he only dressed for a handful of games, he ultimately became a full-time starter in 2004 when the team moved on from long-time starter Jason Gildon. During his eight years in Pittsburgh, Haggans recorded 32.5 sacks in 61 games started.
2000 -Colbert’s second of two fifth-round selections in 2000, quarterback Tee Martin, will forever be known as one of the six quarterbacks drafted before Tom Brady. Martin made the Steelers roster as a rookie as the No. 3 quarterback, but after two seasons, the team moved on for him.
2001 – Chukky Okobi was the Steelers only fifth-round selection in 2001 and while he ultimately played six seasons in Pittsburgh, he never was able to become anything more than a backup interior offensive lineman. In total, he started seven games for the Steelers before being released in 2007.
2002 – Verron Haynes was Colbert’s only fifth-round selection in 2002 and while he will never be remembered as being a star player, the Georgia product was a mainstay on special teams, who wound up garnering 235 offensive touches during his six seasons in Pittsburgh.
2003 – Brian St. Pierre was Colbert’s second stab at a fifth-round quarterback project and much like his first one, Pierre was nothing more than a clipboard holder.
2004 – Virginia Tech product Nathaniel Adibi was the Steelers lone fifth-round selection in 2004, but a lingering hamstring injury suffered during training camp resulted in him being released prior to the start of the season.
2005 – After missing on Adibi in 2004, Colbert went back to the fifth-round linebacker well in 2005 as Rian Wallace was the drafted out of Temple. While Wallace did manage to stick for two seasons in Pittsburgh, he only dressed for a total of 16 games during that span as a special teams player. He was ultimately released prior to the start of the 2007 season.
2006 – In 2006, Omar Jacobs became Colbert’s third fifth-round quarterback selected in a span of six drafts and he failed to make the final 53 man roster as a rookie. After a very short stay on the practice squad, he was released for good.
2006 – The Steelers second of two fifth-round draft picks in 2006, tight end Charles Davis, suffered the same fate as Jacobs as he too failed to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp.
2007 – Colbert’s first of two fifth-round selections in 2007, guard Cameron Stephenson, was also a miss as the Rutgers product failed to crack the 53 man roster out of training camp.
2007 – Colbert finally hit big on a fifth-round selection in 2007 as cornerback William Gay, the second of two fifth-round picks that year, not only made the final 53 man roster, but ultimately became a regular contributor on defense. During his first stint in Pittsburgh, Gay dressed and played in 80 straight games while starting 37 of them. After leaving in via free agency in 2012, Gay returned in 2013 to play in all 16 games and started 13 of them. He heads into 2014 poised to contribute heavily on defense once again.
2008 – Dennis Dixon became Colbert’s fourth shot at a fifth-round quarterback in 2008 and while he managed to stick around longer than this three predecessors, he never became anything more than a No. 3 quarterback. He started all of three games during his Steelers career due to injuries.
2009 – Cornerback Joe Burnett was the Steelers first of two fifth-round selections in 2009 and while he made the 53 man roster as a rookie, he only managed to play 44 snaps on defense that season. Burnett failed to stick, however, as he was released prior to the start of the 2010 season.
2009 – Frank Summers, the Steelers second of two fifth-round picks in 2009, also made the 53 man roster out of training camp as a fullback, but a back injury cut his rookie season short. Like Burnett, Summers was also released prior to the start of the 2010 season. He managed to stick on the practice squad in 2010, but that was it for him.
2010 – In 2010, the Steelers had three fifth-round selections with offensive lineman Chris Scott being the first of the three chosen. A foot injury suffered during the offseason resulted in Scott starting his rookie season on the Reserve PUP list and when he was finally activated to the 53 man roster later on in the season, he never dressed for a game. Scott made the Steelers 53 man roster in 2011, but was waived that October and signed to the practice squad.
2010 – Cornerback Crezdon Butler, the Steelers second of three fifth-round draft picks in 2010, made the 53 man roster as a rookie but only dressed for four games. In 2011, Butler was back in training camp, but this time he failed to make the final roster.
2010 – Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester was the most successful of the three fifth-round selections the Steelers had in 2010, but that’s using the term loosely. While Sylvester managed to start two games over a four-year span in Pittsburgh, his 175 total snaps played really didn’t amount to much. 100 of those snaps came in 2013 after being re-signed to the roster because of injuries. Sylvester really was never more than a special teams contributor that was constantly banged up.
2011 – The Steelers lone fifth-round pick in 2011, linebacker Chris Carter, has managed to stick on the roster despite being ineffective when given the opportunity to play on defense. In 2012, Carter started the first three games of the season at right outside linebacker due to injuries, but was quickly relegated to backup and special teams work after failing to impress in those games. Carter heads into 2014 with only 235 snaps played on defense during his career.
2012 – Colbert took a chance on running back Chris Rainey in the fifth-round of the 2012 draft. Outside of the Florida product producing a 26.5 kickoff return average during his rookie season, that was pretty much it as his 40 offensive touches that season resulted in all of 162 yards. Rainey was released shortly after the 2012 season ended after he was arrested and charged with battery.
2013 – Last April, cornerback Terry Hawthorne was the Steelers lone fifth-round selection, but a knee injury during the offseason resulted in him missing valuable practice time. As a result the team released him prior to the start of the season. He didn’t even show enough to warrant being signed to the practice squad.
Odds are good that both Richardson and Johnson will make the Steelers 53 man roster this year out of training camp. Where their careers go from there is up to them. Of the two, the Steelers really could use a hit with Richardson due to the age and lack of depth in the secondary.