Kevin Colbert & Mike Tomlin

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

A Look At The Steelers Drafts In The Colbert-Tomlin Era

Should you trust them to find the right players this year?

Matt Koll
April 25, 2019 - 2:00 pm

Related: How Do Steelers Protect From Drafting Headcase

NFL Draft day is here.

The league has again captivated us with just about anything and everything it does.

How much confidence do you have in GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin in selecting the correct player or doing the things necessary, aka a trade, to make sure they get the right guy?

Let’s take a look back at their, as Tomlin would love to say, “body of work” since Tomlin was hired after the 2006 season.


Rd 1 (15): Lawrence Timmons- LB, Florida State

Rd 2 (46): LaMarr Woodley- DE/LB, Michigan

Rd 3 (77): Matt Spaeth- TE, Minnesota

Rd 4 (112): Daniel Sepulveda- P, Baylor

Rd 4 (132): Ryan McBean- DT, Oklahoma State

Rd 5 (156): Cameron Stephenson- G, Rutgers

Rd 5 (170): William Gay- DB, Louisville

Rd 7 (227): Dallas Baker- WR, Florida

Timmons and Woodley themselves are enough to carry this draft class, both being major contributors to the Steelers defense. There was a time Woodley was arguably the best blitzing linebacker in the league. A 5th round nab of Willie Gay, who had two stints as a Steeler, is enough to overlook the 4th round… 4th ROUND…selection of a punter. Grade= B+


Rd 1 (23): Rashard Mendenhall- RB, Illinois

Rd 2 (53): Limas Sweed- WR, Texas

Rd 3 (88): Bruce Davis- LB, UCLA

Rd 4 (130): Tony Hills- T, Texas

Rd 5 (156): Dennis Dixon- QB, Oregon

Rd 6 (188): Mike Humpal- LB, Iowa

Rd 6 (194): Ryan Mundy- DB, West Virginia

For as solid as the Tomlin-Colbert era’s first class was, this one was almost as bad. Mendenhall will always be remembered for that fumble in the Super Bowl against the Packers and for his fumbling issues in general. Remember when he’d be fined when he fumbled? But he was actually a very solid starter. The rest of this class, outside of maybe some extra, unexpected years from Ryan Mundy, a huge dud. Grade= D


Rd 1 (32): Evander Hood- DE, Missouri

Rd 2 (79): Kraig Urbik- T, Wisconsin

Rd 3 (84): Mike Wallace- WR, Mississippi

Rd 3 (96): Keenan Lewis- DB, Oregon St

Rd 5 (168): Joe Burnett- DB, Central Florida

Rd 5 (169): Frank Summers- RB, UNLV

Rd 6 (205): Ra’Shon Harris- DT, Oregon

Rd 7 (226) A.Q. Shipley- C, Penn State

Rd 7 (241) David Johnson- TE, Arkansas St

Those top two picks look ugly, as Ziggy Hood and Kraig Urbik never quite caught on in Pittsburgh although they both stayed in the league for multiple years elsewhere. Mike Wallace is the highlight of this one as he made for an outstanding deep threat connection for Ben Roethlisberger. I thought they parted ways with Keenan Lewis a little too soon as well. Grade= C


Rd 1 (18): Maurkice Pouncey- C, Florida

Rd 2 (52): Jason Worilds- LB, Virginia Tech

Rd 3 (82): Emmanuel Sanders- WR, SMU

Rd 4 (116): Thaddeus Gibson- DE, Ohio State

Rd 5 (151): Chris Scott- G, Tennessee

Rd 5 (164): Crezdon Butler- DB, Clemson

Rd 5 (166): Stevenson Sylvester- LB, Utah

Rd 6 (188): Jonathan Dwyer- RB, Georgia Tech

Rd 6 (195): Antonio Brown- WR, Central Michigan

Rd 7 (242): Doug Worthington- DT, Ohio State

Gems all over the place in this one. The Steelers could have picked me, Colin Dunlap, Chris Mack, Jim Colony, Joe Starkey, Ron Cook, Chris Mueller and Andrew Fillipponi with the first eight picks before Antonio Brown and it still would be at least a B. Throw in Emmanuel Sanders in the 3rd and a 7-time Pro Bowler and an all-time Ben favorite in Maurkice Pouncey and it’s an easy A. Grade= A


Rd 1 (31): Cameron Heyward- DE, Ohio State

Rd 2 (63): Marcus Gilbert- T, Florida

Rd 3 (95): Curtis Brown- DB, Texas

Rd 4 (128): Cortez Allen- DB, The Citadel

Rd 5 (162): Chris Carter- LB, Fresno St

Rd 6 (196): Keith Williams- G, Nebraska

Rd 7 (232): Baron Batch- RB, Texas Tech

Cam Heyward is as reliable and solid as they come and is a team leader. Marcus Gilbert was a starter for multiple seasons but just got hurt too much, he is now with Steelers West, the Cardinals. Those DB’s…yikes. Baron Batch got into some trouble for graffiti. Grade= B


Rd 1 (24): David DeCastro- G, Stanford

Rd 2 (56): Mike Adams- T, Ohio State

Rd 3 (86): Sean Spence- LB, Miami (FL)

Rd 4 (109): Alameda Ta’amu- DT, Washington

Rd 5 (159): Chris Rainey- RB, Florida

Rd 7 (231): Toney Clemons- WR, Colorado

Rd 7 (240): David Paulson- TE, Oregon

Rd 7 (246): Terrence Frederick- DB, Texas A&M

Rd 7 (248): Kelvin Beachum- T, SMU

Two gems. Everyone else? Busts. DeCastro is arguably the best at his position in the league. Kelvin Beachum was the ultimate diamond in the rough in the 7th round, becoming a starter for the Steelers, Jaguars and still the New York Jets. The rest are huge swings and misses, for character issues or talent issues. Two starters buoys the class. Grade= C+


Rd 1 (17): Jarvis Jones- LB, Georgia

Rd 2 (48): Le’Veon Bell- RB, Michigan St

Rd 3 (79): Markus Wheaton- WR, Oregon St

Rd 4 (111): Shamarko Thomas- DB, Syracuse

Rd 4 (115): Landry Jones- QB, Oklahoma

Rd 5 (150): Terry Hawthorne- DB, Illinois

Rd 6 (186): Justin Brown- WR, Oklahoma

Rd 6 (206): Vince Williams- LB, Florida St

Rd 7 (223): Nick Williams- DT, Samford

Le’Veon Bell is your de-facto first rounder here and a good one. Markus Wheaton had some potential but ran into some injuries. Jones an obvious disappointment, as well Thomas. How 'bout the sneaky Vince Williams pick in the 6th round? Grade= B


Rd 1 (15): Ryan Shazier- LB, Ohio State

Rd 2 (46): Stephon Tuitt- DE, Notre Dame

Rd 3 (97): Dri Archer- WR, Kent State

Rd 4 (118): Martavis Bryant- WR, Clemson

Rd 5 (157): Shaquille Richardson- DB, Arizona

Rd 5 (173): Wesley Johnson- OL, Vanderbilt

Rd 6 (192): Jordan Zumwalt- LB, UCLA

Rd 6 (215): Daniel McCullers- DT, Tennessee

Rd 7 (230): Rob Blanchflower- TE, Massachusetts

Shazier was a slam dunk. I still wonder what this defense would be like with him roaming the middle of the field. Tuitt hasn’t had that “breakout” season yet but he’s steady. Martavis was a roller coaster ride to be sure but was a potent deep threat when on the field. Dan McCullers just signed a new 2-year deal this offseason. Nevermind that whole Dri Archer thing there, although it might be the single worst draft choice given the slot in the Tomlin-Colbert era, knocking this class out of A range. Grade= B+


Rd 1 (22): Bud Dupree - OLB, Kentucky

Rd 2 (56): Senquez Golson- DB, Mississippi

Rd 3 (87): Sammie Coates- WR, Auburn

Rd 4 (121): Doran Grant- CB, Ohio State

Rd 5 (160): Jesse James- TE, Penn State

Rd 6 (199): Leterrius (LT) Walton- DT, Central Michigan

Rd 6 (212): Anthony Chickillo- DE, Miami (FL)

Rd 7 (239): Gerod Holliman- S, Louisville

The defensive backs woes drafting woes are really highlighted here with Golson and Grant. Sammie Coates is one of the rare misses at the WR position. The back half of this class is where the value is, with Jesse James, LT Walton and Anthony Chickillo all being contributors over the past few seasons. If Bud Dupree wasn’t a first rounder we’d all feel a little better about him. Grade= B


Rd 1 (25): Artie Burns- CB, Miami (FL)

Rd 2 (58): Sean Davis- CB, Maryland

Rd 3 (89): Javon Hargrave- DT, South Carolina St.

Rd 4 (123): Jerald Hawkins- T, LSU

Rd 6 (220): Travis Feeney- OLB, Washington

Rd 7 (229): Demarcus Ayers- WR, Houston

Rd 7 (246): Tyler Matakevich- OLB, Temple

Welp, after one year the Artie Burns pick looked pretty good. But since, it’s been a disaster. Sean Davis and Javon Hargrave have become key components to the defense, though. But that Burns pick is just a huge miss that the Steelers are still paying for. Grade= C


Rd 1 (30): T.J. Watt- OLB, Wisconsin

Rd 2 (62): JuJu Smith-Schuster- WR, USC

Rd 3 (94): Cameron Sutton- CB, Tennessee

Rd 3 (105): James Conner- RB, Pittsburgh

Rd 4 (135): Josh Dobbs- QB, Tennessee

Rd 5 (173): Brian Allen- DB, Utah

Rd 6 (213): Colin Holba- LS, Louisville

Rd 7 (248): Keion Adams- OLB, Western Michigan

It’s yet to play out, but this is already the best class in the Tomlin-Colbert era. It was so good and the Steelers were so proud of their work that they even took a long snapper in the 6th round! Three Pro Bowlers in one class is virtually unheard of. Can’t get much better than this. Grade= A+


Rd 1 (28): Terrell Edmunds- S, Virginia Tech

Rd 2 (60): James Washington- WR, Oklahoma St

Rd 3 (76): Mason Rudolph- QB, Oklahoma St

Rd 3 (92): Chukwuma Okorafor- T, Western Michigan

Rd 5 (148): Marcus Allen- S, Penn State

Rd 5 (165): Jaylen Samuels- TE/RB, North Carolina St

Rd 7 (246): Joshua Frazier- DT, Alabama

Virtually impossible to evaluate this one yet after one season. Edmunds looked like he settled in by the end of the year. James Washington is about to play a much bigger role in the offense in 2019. Jaylen Samuels looks like an outstanding value as a 5th round pick so far. Grade (so far)= B+

So to recap on my made up “grades” we have…

A+ = 1
A= 1
B+ = 3
B= 3
C+ = 1
C= 2
D= 1

Lots of “B” level drafts and overall I think Tomlin and Colbert should be praised for their in the draft over the years. Sure there have been some big-time busts, but there have also been late round selections that have far surpassed their draft slot value. Rarely do the Steelers completely flub and get next to nothing for an entire class.

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