The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their final NFL Draft with Kevin Colbert as their general manager. He has helped provide the team with rosters that have produced amongst the most wins in the league during the past two decades, including two championships, even if the most recent one now feels to many fans a distant memory.
The team is in a vulnerable state as he exits, in need of, among other things, a franchise quarterback, and not many are convinced that there is even one available anywhere in this draft class, let alone within reach for the Steelers. It may take more than this year to get them back on track.
With that being said, Colbert has certainly earned his reputation as one of the best general managers in the past couple of decades, and recently, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, who has covered the team throughout that time, offered his thoughts on what would constitute the ‘Colbert All-Time Draft Team’, which does include rookie free agents.
Many positions are going to be obvious, such as Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, of course. At running back, he goes with Le’Veon Bell, who is a three-time All-Pro, and also includes 2021 rookie Najee Harris on the second team. To me, the lack of Willie Parker feels like an omission, since he is including undrafted players. He didn’t even make the honorable mention list (James Conner and Rashard Mendenhall get the nods).
At wide receiver, you of course have Antonio Brown on top. Hines Ward came before Colbert, for anybody wondering. Plaxico Burress is his other wide receiver, drafted in Colbert’s first year, with Santonio Holmes and Emmanuel Sanders as honorable mentions. It should be noted that he is factoring in entire careers, since it’s about the draft picks, not just their Steelers’ careers.
Heath Miller is the tight end of choice, of course, with Jesse James as honorable mention. He has Max Starks, Kelvin Beachum, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, and Maurkice Pouncey as the offensive line. Marvel Smith gets honorable mention at tackle over Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon. Kendall Simmons and Chris Kemoeatu are honorable mentions at guard, A.Q. Shipley at center.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive line is well-represented with Cameron Heyward, Casey Hampton, and Brett Keisel, with Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave as honorable mentions. Aaron Smith was before Colbert.
T.J. Watt and James Harrison represent the outside linebackers (honorable: LaMarr Woodley, Bud Dupree, Clark Haggans), while Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote are the inside linebackers. Ryan Shazier does not get an honorable mention, instead going to Kendrell Bell and Vince Williams.
The secondary is pretty easy. Ike Taylor and William Gay at cornerback (honorable: Bryant McFadden), with Troy Polamalu and Chris Hope at safety. Their best players outside of these four at the position have been added as free agents or via trade.
What do you think of Bouchette’s All-Colbert team? What would you change? I’ve already offered some of my omissions, like Parker and Shazier, though Foote is certainly worthy. One could consider JuJu Smith-Schuster at least for an honorable mention…though I don’t suspect many will.