Ranking Kevin Colbert’s Draft Picks (Part Three): The 6th Round Void

Part three of a new series I’ll be exploring over the next several weeks. Kevin Colbert is calling it a career as GM, or de facto GM, of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His career has so much in it, running the team since 2000s. Lots of highs, two Super Bowls added to the trophy case, and the occasional low, but overall, a fantastic career for a – by all accounts – fantastic person.

What I’ll continue doing today is recapping and ranking all the draft picks Colbert made in his tenue with the team. Every. Single. One. That’s 176 picks from 2000 to 2021. I am, obviously, leaving out the 2022 draft class since they are impossible to judge in any capacity. But the rest are fair game. We’ll revisit and remember the best picks, the first round studs, Day Three steals to the busts and the guys who simply never did anything in Pittsburgh.

There’s a slight method to my madness. In creating the rankings, I considered *only* what the player did in a Steelers’ uniform. Even if the selection had a good or great career elsewhere, and you’ll see examples of that, it is excluding from consideration. The player may have worked out but not to Pittsburgh’s benefit and that’s the only thing that matters. What we won’t consider are circumstances that led to a player’s success of failure. If a player got hurt or traded or cut or whatever, we’ll accept it without examining it. Players struggle for different reasons but it’s too subjective trying to make those kinds of excuses.

I also weighed the round/selection the player was drafted in, slight consideration to positional value, the process in which the player was picked, and of course, the quality of the players Steelers’ career.

We’ll work down this list #176 to #1, meaning we’ll begin with the worst selection Colbert’s ever made until we get to his best pick. There may be some surprises, controversy, and plenty of blasts from the past along the way. These articles will include roughly 15 names at a time, though the number may sometimes change based on the grouping.

In Part three of the series, we’ll work through 18 names today, #147 to #130. If you want to check out part two, click the link here. 

#147 – Colin Holba/LS Louisville – Round 6, 213th Overall (2017)

We’re starting this list off with what’s reflected in the title. This list gets a little formulaic with us rolling through virtually all the sixth round Steelers who never appeared in a game. Most of this list will simply be done by draft order, the guy who is 208 ranked higher/worse on the list than the guy who is 215. Minor differences but it’s generally all we have to go off of.

But Holba is different. I’m considering the positional value here. I’m not fundamentally against the idea of drafting a long snapper, they’re people too, but if you take one, they better make the team. Drafting a long snapper is a shot call.

Credit to the Steelers for making an objective decision, it’s not easy to cut a guy like Holba, but he was axed in favor of Kameron Canaday in 2017. At the time, no team carried two long snappers on the team so Holba hit free agency and eventually wound up elsewhere, first with the Jags and most recently with the Bengals (who just signed Pitt LS Cal Adomitis as an UDFA). A miss here leaves more of a scar than most sixth round misses.

#146 – Sutton Smith/EDGE Northern Illinois – Round 6, 175th Overall (2019)

Smith was a weird pick. Lots of MAC production which for the Steelers, say no more, but he didn’t have the size, strength (6’0, 233), or really even the athleticism (31.5 inch vert, 9’10” broad) for the position. Injured for the first half of training camp, Pittsburgh briefly tried him as a fullback/linebacker hybrid. But he didn’t look good or comfortable in either and Pittsburgh cut him outright in late August of 2019. Pittsburgh brought him back for one week in November but that was it. He’s had a bit more success with the Raiders but again, that doesn’t impact his Steelers’ ranking.

#145 – Bo Lacy/OT Arkansas – Round 6, 177th Overall (2004)

With a name that sounds like it was generated by Madden in the fifth year of your franchise, Lacy came and went in short order. He failed to make the team out of camp and was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad, spending a month there before being signed off it by the Cleveland Browns. He returned to Pittsburgh later in the season but was again poached off the team’s PS by the Chicago Bears. He never appeared in a NFL game.

#144 – Roger Knight/LB – Round 6, 182nd Overall (2001)

Easily one of the most forgettable draft picks taken in Colbert’s second draft, Knight never appeared on the Steelers’ 53 man roster. He found special teams success with the New Orleans Saints but for Pittsburgh, it was a fruitless selection. Knight had some size at 245 pounds but never panned out for Colbert, one of his first early misses, though calling a sixth rounder a “bust” is too strong of a word.

#143 Mike Humpal/LB Iowa – Round 6, 188th Overall (2008)

Humpal’s NFL career never got off the ground. A neck injury wrapped things up his rookie season and he basically spent his whole career on IR until the team released him in February of 2009 (on the same day as they released former first rounder Kendall Simmons). Humpal is now a chiropractor and running his own business in Iowa, now treating other people’s neck injuries.

#142 Jordan Zumwalt/LB UCLA – Round 6, 192nd Overall (2014)

Hello, Money Pit. Those aren’t my words. Those are evidently Mike Tomlin’s, the nickname he bestowed upon Zumwalt for his consistent injuries that prevented him from ever seeing the field. He spent his first two years in the league on IR before finally getting healthy in 2016. But Pittsburgh had moved on by then and the team released him in August. No other team ever signed him.

#141 Keith Williams/OG Nebraska – Round 6, 196th Overall (2011)

Williams didn’t deal with injury. He apparently just wasn’t good enough. He spent one training camp with the team before being released, catching on with the Buffalo Bills a month later. Williams had size but tested poorly and never stuck as Pittsburgh began rebuilding their front five to protect a less-mobile Ben Roethlisberger.

#140 Drew Caylor/OC Stanford – Round 6, 197th Overall (2004)

Part of the forgettable class behind Ben Roethlisberger (aside from one player we’ll see higher on the list later this year), Caylor is one of Colbert’s most obscure draft picks. No Pro Football Reference profile, no Wikipedia page, there’s hardly a record of him being in the NFL. That’s because his time in it was short. Caylor now works at an investment firm so he seems to be doing alright for himself even if the NFL thing didn’t work out.

#139 Marvin Philip/OC California – Round 6, 201st Overall (2006)

Third straight offensive lineman on this list (I’m literally ranking them basically by their overall selections since their stories are all nearly identical). Philip did at least hang around the practice squad for two years but he never appeared in a game for the Steelers or any other NFL team before briefly spending time in the UFL, a league that lasted as long as Philip’s pro career.

Philip did make an appearance on Shark Tank in 2012, pitching the Lifter Hamper to help people with back injuries, just as he suffered during his football career.

#138 Jason Gavadza/TE Kent State – Round 6, 204th Overall (2000)

This may be showing my youth I’m desperate to cling onto but on a personal level, perhaps no player is more obscure and unknown to me than Gavadza, the last pick of Colbert’s inaugural draft class. He wasn’t a diamond in the rough. He was just…the rough. He quickly fell out of favor in Pittsburgh but his story has a bit of a happy ending. Baltimore signed him in 2000 and he earned a ring with the Baltimore Ravens. From there, he bounced around multiple NFL teams and had stints with three CFL teams. Canada is still treating him well and he’s a real estate agent in the Toronto area.

#137 Ra’Shon Harris/DL Oregon – Round 6, 209th Overall (2009)

The man they called “Sonny,” he became the Steelers’ sixth round choice in 2009. But he never played in a regular season game for the team and found himself with the Carolina Panthers later that year, claimed off waivers in September when Pittsburgh trimmed down their roster. He appeared in two games for the Panthers before circling back to the Steelers but was waived the following summer.

#136 Quincy Roche/EDGE Miami (FL) – Round 6, 216th Overall (2021)

One of the most recent picks on this list, Roche was a bit undersized but thought of as good value in the sixth round after being projected to go early on Day Three last year. Roche lacked standout special teams value and was beat out by Jamir Jones for one of the final roster spots. Pittsburgh likely wanted to stash him on the practice squad and with new rules, they could protect him if he landed there, but the Giants cut in line and claimed him. Roche picked up 2.5 sacks with the Giants, showing that he might have had value in Pittsburgh. But we’ll never know.

#135 Travis Feeney/EDGE Washington – Round 6, 220th Overall (2016)

Again to be clear, I’m essentially ordering these sixth round picks by their draft slot. That’s why a guy like Roche, who may feel like a better talent/player, is ranked above a guy like Feeney, who was long, lanky, and habitually injured. Feeney was a nice athlete coming out of college but an awkward fit who rarely could stay on the field. College injuries followed him to the NFL, suffering a concussion in the 2016 finale against Carolina. He made to the Steelers’ practice squad and spent most of the season there before being plucked off it by the New Orleans Saints. He was waived by New Orleans before the 2017 training camp and never made it back to the NFL.

#134 Chris Scott/OG Tennessee – Round 5, 151st Overall (2010)

We’ll finish up this list by leaving the sixth round void to talk about a couple other later-round picks. Scott was a sloppy body out of Tennessee who spent three years with the team but mostly as a backup or on the practice squad. He offically appeared in just two games and was waived for good in the summer of 2012. He found some footing in Carolina and made 12 career starts. That doesn’t count for our purposes but the fact Scott spent a couple years with the team and logged Sunday action elevates him above sixth rounders who immediately flamed out.

#133 Brian St. Pierre/QB Boston College – Round 5, 163rd Overall (2003)

The Man. The Myth. The Legend. St. Pierre’s crowning Steelers’ achievement was him handing the ball off at the end of blowout wins. But he threw one pass though it fell incomplete, giving  him the classic 39.6 QB rating. The moment came on a 3rd and 7 in a meaningless game against the Buffalo Bills in 2004, the Willie Parker breakout performance, that was intended for Verron Haynes.

St. Pierre did have a 4th and 1 conversion so he actually provided them something productive for the team. Which, hey, is more than what a lot of 5th round QBs accomplish.

#132 Shamarko Thomas/SS Syracuse – Round 4, 111th Overall (2013)

Viewed as a possible heir to Troy Polamalu, it’s an easy statement to laugh at ten years later. Thomas was a physical presence and hard-hitter but never established himself as a reliable or consistent starter. He started just two games in his four-year Steelers’ career, both coming in his rookie season, and while he played on special teams units, he never became a standout player. He’s most notable for being the first player ejected under the NFL’s restrictive helmet/safety rules in a preseason game against the Colts.

What makes the Thomas pick all the worse is that Pittsburgh traded up to get him. It was a pretty costly one too, giving up a 2014 third rounder to get Thomas in the fourth round in 2013. Not one of Colbert’s better deals and Thomas could be placed above all the non-descript sixth round picks. But he at least spent four years with the team.

#131 Chris Rainey/RB Florida – Round 5, 159th Overall (2012)

Rainey was similar to the Dri Archer miss, though Rainey had a bit more Steelers’ success and wasn’t as costly as Archer’s third-round investment. But the idea and problem with Rainey were all the same. A fast dude without much of a NFL home. He spent just one year on the 53-man roster, averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. He at least found the end zone twice and offered a tiny bit in the pass game while serving as the team’s solid-enough kick returner for the season, averaging 26.5 yards per return. But he wouldn’t make the roster his sophomore season and spent another season in Indy, serving as a bit-piece guy in the return game.

#130 Anthony Smith/S Syracuse – Round 3, 83rd Overall (2006)

A name Steelers fans want to forget and remember for all the wrong reasons. The second Syracuse safety on this list, Smith made some plays for Pittsburgh but wrote checks the team couldn’t cash. Most famously his “guarantee” win over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. One that made all the headlines and didn’t come true.

In three years with the team, Smith made only 14 starts. He picked off four passes but he was more liability than asset. He spent the rest of his career bouncing from team to team.

Kevin Colbert’s Draft Rankings

#176. Senquez Golson
#175. Alonzo Jackson
#174. Fred Gibson
#173. Danny Farmer
#172. Kraig Urbik
#171. Bruce Davis
#170. Artie Burns
#169. Orien Harris
#168. Alameda Ta’amu
#167. Dri Archer
#166. Limas Sweed
#165. Thaddeus Gibson
#164. Nathaniel Adibi
#163. Willie Reid
#162. Ricardo Colclough
#161. Doran Grant
#160. Tony Hills
#159. Ryan McBean
#158. Mathias Nkwenti
#157. Jarvis Jones
#156. Terry Hawthorne
#155. Cameron Stephenson
#154. Shaq Richardson
#153. Charles Davis
#152. Omar Jacobs
#151. Wesley Johnson
#150. Mike Adams
#149. Joe Burnett
#148. Sammie Coates
#147. Colin Holba
#146. Sutton Smith
#145. Bo Lacy
#144. Roger Knight
#143. Mike Humpal
#142. Jordan Zumwalt
#141. Keith Williams
#140. Drew Caylor
#139. Marvin Philip
#138. Jason Gavadza
#137. Ra’Shon Harris
#136. Quincy Roche
#135. Travis Feeney
#134. Chris Scott
#133. Brian St. Pierre
#132. Shamarko Thomas
#131. Chris Rainey
#130. Anthony Smith

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