Former Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Classes Revisited: 2000

We continue our look back at previous Steelers draft classes with a review of the 2000 Draft. It should first be noted that this was year one of the Kevin Colbert era. Following Mr. Donahoe, Colbert certainly had big shoes to fill. Most of us feel he's done so admirably, but the 2000 draft, despite not being terrible by any stretch, is probably not included in Colbert's top-ten career achievements. If you missed it and would like to do so, check back at our 1998 and 1999 revisits.

Round 1, Pick # 8

Plaxico Burress WR Michigan State

Plaxico, the eighth overall choice in 2000, spent five seasons in Pittsburgh before being allowed to walk in free agency. He's a pretty polarizing figure for Steelers fans, and that was before his gun incident in a Manhattan nightclub. Burress, who played an integral role in the Giants' SB run in 2007, had to sit out most of the final stretch of the regular season and last year's playoffs. With him out, New York's offense became too one-dimensional, with nobody commanding double teams on the perimeter to deflect attention away from stopping the run. Rumor has it that the Giants are willing to take Burress back. I think it's the right call to do so for the organization, from a football standpoint and from a risk-reward standpoint. Burress has problems no doubt. But they're not irreversible in my opinion and I think he's smart enough to realize that this is just about his last chance moving forward if he is to be reinstated and given a chance to catch footballs in the National Football League.

Back to Steelers fans..many see Plax as a guy who couldn't adjust to not being the focal point in the offense. He simply wasn't a team player some would argue. Others think he just got pigeon-holed as a bad apple. No matter what you think of him, it's hard to argue with his talent. With so many first round busts from recent wide receivers, Burress has proved that play-making wide receivers can still be worth an early pick, helping both the Steelers and the Giants win Lombardi trophys. I In the end though, most Steelers fans with remember Plax for things like this:

"It's Pittsburgh, which speaks for itself. They're not going to change," Burress said of the Steelers' run-heavy offense. "I'm not going to change. Three or four balls just doesn't suit me very well."


Better suited for the bright lights of the Big
Apple than the lunch-pail mentality of the 'Burgh

I'm sure Plax will say he's much happier in New York, but the fact is, his single greatest season as a pro, both in terms of yards and receptions, came in Pittsburgh in 2002 when caught 78 passes for 1,325 yards. It's not the pass-happy nature of New York that Plax prefers. It's the money and the cameras. Nevertheless, Plax served us well while here. If you have talent, you have the opportunity to make big bucks after your rookie contract expires. Burress did just that, and that's just fine. Grade: B+  Brian Urlacher (LB), Julian Peterson (LB), Shaun Alexander (RB)

Still available:  Brian Urlacher (LB), Julian Peterson (LB), Shaun Alexander (RB)

 

Round 2, Pick # 38

Marvel Smith, OT Arizona State

Marvel Smith had a solid start to his career and appeared positioned to perhaps finish his career in Pittsburgh if the price were right as one of the very good, if not great, OL in Steelers history.  The 2005 Pro Bowler is/was equally good at pass and run blocking. To his immense credit, he was the ultimate team player while in Pittsburgh, as evidenced by him restructuring his contract twice since 2003. The only knock you can make on Smith's career could be that he's missed a fair number of games in  He hasn't played back-to-back full seasons since '02-'03 and has missed a total of 18 games the past five seasons. He's been an integral member of O-lines that have paved the way for some of the league's best rushing attacks, and up until the past few years, he's done his part in limiting sacks on Steelers QBs.

2007 was a disappointment because the collective play of the line was poor, but Smith's tricky back injury probably played a role in his mediocre campaign. In fact, before he was shut down for the year, I believe he gave up 5 sacks in one game, something that's unheard of for any tackle, let alone a Pro-Bowler. 2008 was a huge season for Smith's financial future, considering he turned the mythical 30 years old and is entered the final year of his contract. Back problems plagued him again however, and by season's end, the Steelers did the expected and let him get away via free agency. The San Francisco 49ers picked him up, giving him an incentive laden 2-year contract that minimized their financial exposure due to Marvel's nagging back problems. Nevertheless, a fairly solid draft pick for the organization that started out great before puttering out late. Grade: B+

Still available:  Jerry Porter (WR), Cornelius Griffin (DT), Marcus Washington (LB)

Round 3, Pick # 72

Kendrick Clancy, DT Mississippi

Clancy spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, but only started four games (played in 44) totaling just 22 tackles and zero sacks. To his credit though Clancy has managed to bounce around to three different teams the past three years and has started 28 games over that time while playing in 41 total. Clancy might have had a better future in Steel Town if Casey Hampton hadn't been drafted in 2001. Then again, had Clancy shown more promise or if the Steelers believed in his ability more, they probably wouldn't have used their first round pick on Big Snack the following year. Clancy can thank Hampton for giving him a second chance though because Kendrick was actually cut prior to the 2004 season and was resigned off the street after Hampton tore his ACL eight games into the season. Grade: C+

Still available:  Darrell Jackson (WR), 

 

Star-divide

Round 4, Pick # 77

Hank Poteat, CB Pittsburgh

Poteat, a Philadelphia native who played his ball in Pittsburgh, spent the first three years of his 8-year career with Pittsburgh. Though he played some DB here, he mainly earned his paycheck as a punt and kick returner. As a kick returner, he was only decent, averaging 19.4, 15.6 and 20.6 yards per return in his first three years. He was fairly solid as a punt returner though, especially during his rookie season, when he took one the distance and finished the year with a healthy 13 yards per return average. Compare that with Rossum's 6.4 yards per return in '07 and you can understand why we thought we maybe had something in Poteat. Poteat's contributions on special teams weren't enough to keep him around though. Since 2002, he has joined three other teams in the past five years, most recently for the Jets in '07.

During that time he's played in 81 games, starting 17, and totaling 122 tackles and 2 interceptions. Poteat was cut by the Steelers before the 2003 season but was signed by the Buccaneers. He played in just one game during that season before getting cut halfway through. It appeared he might be out of football until he was signed by the Patriots right before the 2004 season's playoffs. He would play in each of their playoff games and ended with a championship ring and 3 tackles. Poteat stayed on with New England until he was cut midway through the 2006 season and was signed by the Jets just one day later. 2007 was actually Poteat's best season as a pro when he started 9 games and totaled 37 tackles, while recording his first two interceptions. Grade: B-

Still available:  Laveranues Coles (WR), Reuben Droughns (RB)

 

Round 4, Pick #103

Danny Farmer, WR UCLA

Farmer not only didn't play a game in the Black and Gold, he never even broke camp with the team. He was among the final cuts in training camp in 2000 and was picked up by the Bengals before the Steelers could sign him to the practice squad. Farmer played three seasons in Cincy and ended his career with just 4 starts (33 games total) totaling 43 receptions for 611 yards and one touchdown. Grade: D

Still available:  Tyrone Carter (S)

 

Round 5, Pick # 137

Clark Haggans, LB Colorado State

The Colorado State product started 61 games over his eight year career with the Steelers and has been the primary starter for the past four seasons. Haggans didn't have his best year in 2007 but his contributions the past eight seasons shouldn't be overlooked. He's had four seasons with at least six sacks and three seasons with at least 50 tackles. He also started and recorded a sack in the Super Bowl. Not bad for a fifth round pick.Haggans was good enough to contribute when he was younger and had more lively legs, but now that he's on the downhill part of his career, he doesn't have the size, speed or strength to really be a force in a defense that aims to be atop the league standings each year. Hence Pittsburgh's decision to let him get away to Arizona, where he played an integral role as a reserve LB for Arizona's run to the Super Bowl. Grade: B

Still available:  Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (DT), Dante Hall (KR), Sammy Morris (RB)

 

Round 5, Pick #163

Tee Martin, QB Tennessee

After the Kordell Stewart soap-opera, it's somewhat odd that the Steelers felt compelled to roll the dice on another slightly undersized QB who made his mark in college running the option. Martin's career stats include 3 games (1 with Pitt, 2 with Oakland) with 6 completions on 16 attempts for 69 yards. He threw one interception and zero touchdowns and also added 36 yards on 6 attempts. Martin lasted just two seasons with the Steelers (1 game, 1 rushing attempt) and he got one other chance in Oakland during the 2003 season when he played in two games. He also played one season in NFL Europe and one season in the Canadian football league.  Martin continues to be involved in football though as he owns Playmakers Sports, an organization devoted to combine training, as well as QB and skill position development camps. It's nice to see that even though his NFL career wasn't successful, he is still successful in life. Grade: D

Still available: Marc Bulger (QB), Neil Rackers (K)

 

Round 6, Pick #173

Chris Combs, DE Duke

Combs hung on in the NFL for just three seasons, playing in 10 games and totaling one tackle. He was cut by the Steelers before the 2002 season when he was beat out by seventh round pick, Brett Keisel. He was signed by Jacksonville for the 2003 season but played in just two games and didn't register a tackle. Note to the Steelers' front office: we trust the decisions you make, but try to avoid any and all football players that come out of Duke. Cool? Grade: D-

Still available:   Tom Brady (QB), Adalius Thomas (LB), Dhani Jones (LB)

 

Round 6, Pick # 204

Jason Gavadza, TE Ken State

Gavadza never broke camp with the Steelers and bounced around several NFL teams including St. Louis, Carolina and Baltimore (on their practice squad their SB year). He played one season in NFL Europe and as recently as 2005 was playing in the CFL for the BC Lions. Grade: D-

Still available:   Adewale Ogunleye (DE), Brian Waters (G)

 

********

Overall: There ya have it. Following '98 and '99's deep draft classes, 2000 was less of an overwhelming success. The only real value we found on the 2nd day was Clark Haggans, who may have left Steeler Nation on a sour note, but still shouldn't be dismissed as irrelevant in our success this decade.  We did have an explosive aerial attack with Plax for several years, Marvel Smith (despite his departure in '09) was a proven commodity along the line for many years, and Clark Haggans helped us win a Super Bowl before his acerbic departure last offseason.  Not one player from the draft of 2000 is still on the roster going into the 2009 season.

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