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Steelers Top 10 NFL Draft Successes In Kevin Colbert Era: No. 6 - OT Willie Colon, 4th Round 2006

We're halfway through the Top 10 Draft 'Successes' for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the Kevin Colbert Era. We'll recess over the weekend, and shift our attention to the Top 10 Draft Busts since 2000. Should make for a more lively debate perhaps. But I've got some surprises in store for you all here in the 'Successes' category. I look forward to those debates because I know they're coming.

Before we continue, for those seeing the list for the first time, take note that I'm excluding first round picks from my list of 'successes'.

Back to Colon. When thinking about where to place Colon in this list, I paused at first because the list has been more about which draft picks by Kevin Colbert have proven to be 'valuable' rather than 'successful' as the title suggests.  And when I think about what constitutes value from an NFL player, I don't turn just to statistical production or regular productivity on game days. Value is also contingent on the amount of money invested in the player to produce. And in Colon's case, the financial investment has been minimal. I wrote about the misfortune Colon has experienced contract-wise the past two years just recently, but to summarize, he missed out on multiple opportunities to get paid handsomely in free agency. He may still receive a fat contract when the labor impasse is finally resolved, but the Achilles injury he suffered likely means he'll have to wait another three years to get his first true shot at a lucrative payday. 

All that's to say that Colon has proven to be pretty darn valuable as a fourth round pick back in '06.  Colon had been one of the absolute most durable guys in the league from '07-'09, starting 48 consecutive games, as well as all four of the Steelers postseason games during that stretch. It really wasn't until '09 though that Colon started to round into form. In fact, he was the poster boy in many ways for the collective struggles of the offensive line in '07 and '08 in particular. 

So, even though he's provided an incredible return on investment to date, I can't justify putting him any higher than sixth on this list. Perhaps he would crack the top five if he had not suffered a freak injury last summer that forced him to miss the entire season. But as is, he'll have to continue his unlikely journey from no-name, fringe prospect to a potential Pro Bowl type player beginning in 2011. Hopefully the young man will finally catch a break, and do so in Pittsburgh as a member of the Steelers. If he does, we might be talking about him as one of the better mid-round draft picks in team history somewhere down the line.

Kevin Colbert's Top 10 Draft 'Successes'


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