While I initially planned to cover just the Mike Tomlin years in revisiting the Steelers’ recent drafts, I recently talked about their first-round history dating back to 2006, so I thought that we should keep going. And in the interests of reaching a round number—and with a nod toward Heath Miller—I thought we would make it an even 10 drafts by taking us back to 2005.
In the subsequent comments, a few people asked about evaluating past draft classes, which is idea that I had already previously considered. While I will not go so far as to provide letter grades for each player, I will cover each of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft picks from the 2006 class.
First Round (25): WR Santonio Holmes: The Steelers traded to get Santonio Holmes, and then they traded him away, but in between, he was a very good wide receiver who was instrumental in the team winning their sixth Super Bowl. His talent as an athlete certainly far surpassed his maturity, having had several run-ins with drug-related issues. He talked about using drugs on Twitter, threatened one of his followers, and also got into an altercation with a woman in a nightclub. On top of the league announcing a pending suspension, in addition to other PR issues the team was facing, the Steelers would have released him had they not found a trade partner.
Third Round (83): S Anthony Smith: The team had high hopes for Anthony Smith as a potential play-making safety, who intercepted 14 passes in college. And he actually did make a couple of plays. He started the last four games of his rookie season due to injury and intercepted two passes. He moved into the starting lineup again the following year due to injury, starting 10 games and picking off a couple more passes, but he never lived up to what the team expected of him. He was not tendered when he hit restricted free agency in 2008 and spent the next few years as a journeyman before retiring.
Third Round (95): WR Willie Reid: In spite of the fact that he was a third-round pick, wide receiver Willie Reid actually did not become a star player for the Steelers. He spent his rookie year on injured reserve. He was meant to return punts in 2007, but the team traded for a returner instead after he failed to impress. He did not make the team the following year.
Fourth Round (131): T Willie Colon: I know there are some mixed feelings, but I’ve always counted myself a fan of Willie Colon. In spite of his penalties, he was an excellent starting right tackle until his career was derailed by injuries. He then successfully made the transition to guard. The team made the difficult decision to cut him due to his contract and his injury history, but he quickly landed back on his feet with the Jets.
Fourth Round (133): DT Orien Harris: Orien Harris was, incredibly, one of four draft picks from the 2006 class that failed to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster, all of them released with the final cuts. Of course, the team was just coming off a Super Bowl victory, so they were a deep team drafting late. But Harris would go on to have a marginal if brief journeyman career, highlighted by a 14-game year in 2009 with the Bengals.
Fifth Round (164): QB Omar Jacobs: Mind you, none of the aforementioned players were added back to the practice squad, including Omar Jacobs. Instead, the Steelers put Brian St. Pierre on the practice squad. After kicking around offseason and practice squad rosters for two years, Jacobs went on to play for other leagues, including indoor leagues as recently as last year. He won an indoor championship in 2008.
Fifth Round (167): TE Charles Davis: Charles Davis was another player who never made the roster, those he later spent time on a couple of 53-man rosters in brief spurts over the following couple of years, making one catch. He’s been out of football for five years.
Sixth Round (201): C Marvin Philip: A college center who was a two-time finalist for the Rimington Trophy, Marvin Philip spent two years with the Steelers, in 2007 bouncing around from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He later appeared on Shark Tank seeking investors for his spring-loaded laundry hamper
Seventh Round (240): RB Cedric Humes: Cedric Humes was a big back who bounced around on the practice squad, then suffered an injury that got him waived injured. The Giants picked him up—they also signed Charles Davis in the offseason—and after the year sent both players to NFL Europe. Humes suffered a career-ending neck injury while playing overseas.