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Top 10 NFL Draft 'Busts' Of Kevin Colbert Era: No. 8 -- OLB Thaddeus Gibson, 4th Round

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Sorry for not hearing much from me today. Was a particularly busy day. Anyway, onward with the top ten 'successes' and 'busts' of the Kevin Colbert era. the No. 9 bust -- Plaxico Burress -- elicited some heated debate out of several of you. That's never a bad thing. The only thing I tried to reiterate is that I hope people don't get hung up on the word 'bust' and instead think of this top ten list as those picks that were disappointing for one reason or another.

Anyway, I have my lists mapped out, but honestly, this one was the most difficult for me to decide on. There just haven't been that many major disappointments amongst Kevin Colbert's draft picks in the top several rounds over the last eleven years. Quite simply, it was hard to piece together a ten name list.

But I'm going with Thaddeus Gibson at No. 8 over guys like WR Fred Gibson (4th round, 2005), CB Keenan Lewis (3rd Round 2009), and a few others that either never made it out of camp their rookie year or failed to produce much on Sundays.

I'm keeping this post short, but it just didn't seem too logical to take another OLB/DE in the fourth round after using their second round pick on another pass rushing OLB, Jason Worilds. Now, I personally would understand the reasoning if the Steelers had made up their mind to not invest in LaMarr Woodley long term. We'll see if the Steelers opt to just let Woodley play the '11 season under the Franchise Tag before parting ways with him after next season. But most people seem to think that Woodley will eventually get locked down with a long-term deal.

At the other OLB position, James Harrison recently underwent his second back surgery, and at 33 years of age, there's no guarantee that he has more than a few more years of high quality football left in him. But if I'm Colbert, I'm very willing to gamble that Harrison will find a way to play at a high level through at least the 2012 season, and perhaps even for a few years beyond that. That leaves Worilds and Gibson sitting on their hands for more than just one or two years before getting a realistic opportunity to take over as regular contributors on defense.

Anyway, when injuries along the defensive line forced the Steelers to activate Steve McClendon in late October of last year, the Steelers were forced to waive Gibson. Had he cleared waivers, they would have been able to sign him to the practice squad. But of course, the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers put claims in and the 49ers ultimately wound up with a young prospect. Mike Tomlin explained the situation by saying:

"Linebacker is our deepest position, and [Gibson] is the low man on the totem pole, so we had to make that necessary move. We were thin at defensive line. It's just one of the casualties of this profession. It's very much a reality, and that's why we don't take what we're doing here for granted and we acknowledge that it's precious."

Very true, very true. But what Tomlin doesn't mention there is that the Steelers had other options to try to make sure they didn't lose Gibson. More importantly though, why stockpile depth at OLB when your two studs -- Woodley and Harrison -- have missed a grand total of two games between them the last three years. Along the defensive line by contrast, injuries and depth have been a major concern. Brett Keisel has missed 12 games the last three years, while Aaron Smith has missed 21 games over that time span. Just doesn't quite make sense to allocate all that insurance depth at a position where there's two of the league's very best at the position that also happen to be very durable.

To conclude, this is not so much an indictment on Gibson. Who knows if he'll turn out to have a solid career somewhere. I do think though that this particular example might be a good example of deviating away from 'best player available' in order to pick a prospect that at least has a shot of filling a need. Of course, in the fourth round, there's no guarantee that you'll find that prospect who can step in and help plug a hole at a position of need. But why not take that gamble rather than always sticking to BPA. And if the Steelers weren't in fact sticking to BPA with the selection of Gibson, well, then they got that wrong too.

Ultimately, as I mentioned to begin, I struggled with this selection and it's a testament to just how great Kevin Colbert and the unheralded army of scouts that work for him are. Someone's got to make the list though.


Kevin Colbert's Top 10 Draft 'Busts'

No. 9: Plaxico Burress, 1st Round, 2000

No. 10: Kendall Simmons, 1st Round, 2002


Kevin Colbert's Top 10 Draft 'Successes'

No. 6: Willie Colon, OT, 4th Round, 2006

No. 7: LB Larry Foote, 4th Round, 2002

No. 8: OG Chris Kemoeatu, 6th Round, 2005

No. 9: OT Marvel Smith, 2nd Round, 2000

No. 10: WR Antonio Brown,  6th Round, 2010


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