Steelers insider: Steelers' inconsistency linked to draft duds
By Alan Robinson
Published: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 12:07 a.m.
There are 186 days until the NFL Draft. That's six months to watch college games, read draft reports, monitor the NFL Combine and figure out what name Roger Goodell should announce as the Steelers' first-round pick.
If the first 13 drafts conducted by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert are any indicator, it's a day that could alter team history — one way or another.
By the way, that first Colbert draft occurred 4,572 days ago — about one day for every projected yard that 2004 first-round pick Ben Roethlisberger might throw for this season.
That 2004 draft perfectly illustrates the ups and downs of drafting, an art form at which Colbert often excels.
The Roethlisberger pick was clearly the gem of his picks, but the next one — second-rounder Ricardo Colclough — was arguably his worst.
While Colbert (and coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, who have a say in the matter) enjoyed a string of first-round successes in Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller, he has struck out, too. That's no different than every other NFL general manager.
The ups and downs of this season's unpredictable Steelers are reflected in those up-and-down drafts. One year, the picks are Pouncey, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown; another year, they are Limas Sweed, Bruce Davis and Tony Hills.
So, let's do what Colbert can't: Turn back the clock, rewrite history and redraft. This isn't to suggest what Colbert should have done, but to look back at what he could have done.
2004: Colclough, second round, No. 38 overall.
Maybe the Steelers should have stopped after taking Big Ben, but they traded with the Colts to move up and get a player Cowher loved. The first red flag should have been his college (tiny Tusculum); it proved to be a case of little school, big bust. The Colts used the Steelers' pick to grab future Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders.
2005: Fred Gibson, fourth round, No. 131.
Gibson, a wide receiver, got into trouble at Georgia for selling his SEC Championship ring. But that was nothing like his bill of goods someone sold the Steelers. Gibson was cut at the end of training camp and later landed in the NBA D-League. They could have had Josh Cribbs or defensive tackle Chris Canty, who went to the Cowboys on the very next pick.
2006: Anthony Smith, third round, No. 83; Willie Reid, third round, No. 95.
Perhaps the worst single round in Steelers draft history. Smith was best known for ill-advisedly guaranteeing a win over the unbeaten Patriots; Tom Brady torched him then taunted him. Reid was more of a punt returner than a receiver, and he did neither well in a seven-game Steelers career. The Steelers could have had receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
2008: Limas Sweed, second round, No. 53; Bruce Davis, third round, No. 88.
They badly needed a receiver. Instead they got, well, a bad receiver in Sweed. Two picks later, Ray Rice went to Baltimore. And even Adam Dunn hasn't struck out like the Steelers did with the nonathletic Davis, a linebacker; the Lions grabbed sack machine Cliff Avril four picks later.
2010: Jason Worilds, second round, No. 52.
Worilds leads the Steelers with three sacks, and he isn't close to being a certifiable disappointment. But there was considerable debate whether the Steelers should have grabbed Penn State linebacker Sean Lee of Upper St. Clair. Lee is now one of the NFL's leading tacklers.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Steelers defense doesn’t make the grade in 2013 review
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant