When it comes to draft weekend, no one does… nothing better than Kevin Colbert. PFF’s Brad Spielberger compiled a list of GM draft trading history across the league. Since 2011, Colbert has made among the fewest trades of any GM. Considering the fact he’s been running the Steelers that whole time, compared to guys just hired, he’s the most inactive GM in the league.
Spielberger has a long Twitter thread (and an article from last year) outlining each GM’s moves. Or in Colbert’s case, a lack of moves. Over the last decade, Colbert has moved up four times and never traded down.
Chiefs GM Brett Veach: 5 Up, 0 Down
Titans GM Jon Robinson: 8 Up, 4 Down
Bills GM Brandon Beane: 6 Up, 1 Down
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert: 4 Up, 0 Down
Cardinals GM Steve Keim: 4 Up, 5 Down
Bengals GM Mike Brown: 4 Up, 5 Down
Rest are new. Broncos exec John Elway was 7 Up, 10 Down
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) April 20, 2021
Colbert is one of just three GMs not to trade down, joining the Chargers’ Tom Telesco and the Chiefs’ Brett Veach. Telesco is the one name with similar inaction as Colbert, making just four trades (all moving up) since he was hired as GM back in 2013. Kansas City hired Veach in 2017.
We’ve tracked Colbert’s trading history over the years. Here are the four moves he has made in that span.
2011 — Moved from #119 to #109 to draft NT Alameda Ta’amu
2013 — Traded 2014 third-rounder for 2013 fourth-rounder to draft S Shamarko Thomas
2018 — Moved from #79 to #76 to draft QB Mason Rudolph
2019 — Traded #20, #52, and 2020 third for #10 to draft ILB Devin Bush
Colbert also traded WR Martavis Bryant during the 2018 draft, netting a third round pick and a clear win for the Steelers.
For Colbert, his biggest draft day trade is moving up for Bush. And one that appeared to be working out until Bush’s torn ACL last season. The other trades had much worse results. Ta’amu and Thomas were clear misses. Rudolph isn’t in that same boat, but his career arc hasn’t reflected the first-round grade the Steelers claimed to have on him.
This history isn’t a direct criticism or praise of Colbert. Trading up, down, or standing pat doesn’t make for an inherently good or bad decision-maker. And he’s done well with the picks he’s had, recently named the NFL’s second-best drafting GM.
But it’s interesting to stack Colbert’s approach to the rest of the league. This would be a good year for the Steelers to trade down and benefit by acquiring more picks. History says that won’t happen. Since Colbert took over in 2000, he’s only traded down five times. Only once has that occurred in the first round, way back in 2001 when he moved down three spots, #16 to #19.