Throughout the 22-year run as GM and Director of Football Operations for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kevin Colbert had some very successful drafts overall.
Of course, Colbert brought in the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, David DeCastro and more in 22 different drafts, few will ever top the 2010 haul that Colbert put together for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That class featured headline names such as center Maurkice Pouncey (first round, 18th overall), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (third round, 82nd overall), and wide receiver Antonio Brown (sixth round, 195th overall). It also had outside linebacker Jason Worilds (second round, 52nd overall), who was rather productive before shockingly retiring ahead of free agency in 2015.
The 2010 draft class also featured some duds for Colbert, showing that drafting isn’t an exact science, as he whiffed on outside linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, guard Chris Scott, and defensive tackle Doug Worthington. That said, he also found some serviceable role players in cornerback Crezdon Butler, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, and running back Jonathan Dwyer, who helped the Steelers compete at a high level during their time in the black and gold.
Overall, the 2010 draft haul was a great one for the black and gold, as well as Colbert, so it’s no surprise to see the 2010 class ranked as the No. 7 overall draft class in the Pro Football Focus, according to Michael Renner’s rankings Thursday morning.
The Steelers’ 2010 class slotted in between the 2018 Indianapolis Colts at No. 8, and the 2019 Tennessee Titans at No. 6.
“Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Maurkice Pouncey are all household names. Their inclusion needs no justification,” Renner writes regarding the Steelers’ 2010 draft class. “Where this draft jumps the superb 2018 Colts haul, though, is the addition of Jason Worilds. If you weren’t following the Steelers or football closely in the early 2010s, you may have forgotten how good a player the Virginia Tech product was. Worilds developed into a quality starting edge with top-20 grades in his final two seasons as a Steeler.
“After playing 2014 on the transition tag, Worilds was set to hit free agency in 2015. Instead of signing a big money deal, though, he shockingly retired to pursue other interests. Still only 34 years old, there’s no telling where Worilds could have ended up.”
Worilds was a painful loss, one that the Steelers did nothing wrong in losing him. He decided to pursue his life’s new calling and walked away from football, leaving a sizable hole off the edge for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Still, when he was on the field he was rather good, grading out as a top 20 EDGE defender in 2013 and 2014, seasons in which he recorded 8.0 and 7.5 sacks while playing the run well overall.
Aside from Worilds, Pouncey was a stalwart for the Steelers until his retirement after the 2020 season. In his time with the Steelers, Pouncey started 134 games, went to nine Pro Bowls — including six straight to end his career — and earned two First Team All-Pro accolades and three Second Team All-Pros.
Brown, of course, had one of the most dominant runs ever for a wide receiver in NFL history from 2013-2018, leading the league twice in receptions (2014 and 2015), and yards twice (2014, 2017), earning seven total Pro Bowl trips in his time with the black and gold, four straight First Team All-Pro accolades, and one Second Team All-Pro honor. He was as dominant as they come at the position historically, and he was grabbed in the sixth round in 2010.
Then there’s Sanders. Though he spent just four seasons in Pittsburgh, he went on to have a rather strong career overall. While in the black and gold as part of the Young Money trio with Brown and Mike Wallace, Sanders hauled in 161 passes for 2,030 yards and 11 touchdowns. After his four seasons, he went on to Denver, where he spent six seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2015. In total, Sanders has played 12 seasons and has 704 career receptions for 9,245 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Overall, it was a very good class for Colbert, one that should realistically be a bit higher on Renner’s list, as there’s likely two Hall of Famers within the haul in Pouncey and Brown.
It is worth wondering what Worilds could have become for the Steelers if he didn’t shockingly retire at just 27 years old, considering he was just starting to truly find his game as an outside linebacker in the Steelers’ system. His retirement led to the selection of Bud Dupree in the first round in 2015, and that eventually turned out well in the end.