The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into a new chapter of the front office as Omar Khan and company prepare for their first NFL draft. With former Steelers GM Kevin Colbert moving into retirement following the 2022 draft, this will mark the first time the new regime has total control over their selections. How will this shape out for the Steelers moving forward? That’s what many fans are both excited and nervous to see.
With the draft nearly 3 months away, let’s take a look at the top draft picks of the Pittsburgh Steelers in each round in the Kevin Colbert era. For those who may not be certain of the dates, these will be the drafts from 2000 through 2022.
For this exercise, we will be looking at players drafted specifically by the Steelers since the year 2000. In determining how well each player performed, we will only look at their time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and not any time spent with a different team. The rankings will come according to the total AV (Approximate Value) for each player determined by Pro Football Reference (PFR) during their time with the Steelers. Exactly how PFR determines AV can be seen HERE. For players with the same AV, other considerations such as games played may be taken into account. Obviously, players who have a longer career with the Steelers have the chance of a higher score. But isn’t longevity a key factor in determining whether it was a good draft pick?
The next step as we count our way down will be players selected by the Steelers in the 2nd round of the NFL draft.
5: Marcus Gilbert
Draft Year: 2011
Although there were some other players who had significant contributions during the rookie contracts such as JuJu Smith-Schuster (33) and Kendrell Bell (30), it was the second-most games started of any second-round pick this millennium for the Steelers in Marcus Gilbert that grabbed the last spot on the list. With 87 regular season games started and 88 games played along with another eight game started in the postseason, Gilbert found himself a starter fairly early in his NFL career and held onto the job as long as he was healthy. Although he was never selected to the Pro Bowl, many felt that he was a constant snub based on his performance holding down the Steelers right side of the offensive line. After two seasons riddled by injury in 2017 and 2018, Gilbert was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for sixth-round draft pick. Spending all of 2019 on the Reserve/Injured list, Gilbert opted out of the 2020 season and retired in the spring of 2021 which locked in the Pittsburgh Steelers as the only NFL team for whom he appeared in a game.
4: Stephon Tuitt
Draft Year: 2014
Despite not playing in an NFL game past the age of 27, Stephon Tuitt comes in fourth on the list based on his seven seasons in which he appeared for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Starting 79 of 91 games played during the regular season as well as all eight playoff games, Tuitt finished his NFL career with 246 tackles with 48 being for loss, 94 quarterback hits, 34.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, 13 passes defensed, and an interception. The 2020 season saw Tuitt with a career-high 11.0 sacks, which unfortunately ended up being his final NFL season after injury and the tragic loss of his brother sent him into early retirement after a season on the Reserve/Injured List.
3: Marvel Smith
Draft Year: 2000
The second number 77 on this list, Marvell Smith started the most games of any second-round pick since 2000 with 108 starts in 111 regular season games. Smith also added another 10 playoff starts including the Steelers 2005 Super Bowl victory. Selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004, Smith only appeared in five games in 2008 due to back injuries. Although Smith signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 2009, he announced his retirement before the start of the regular season.
2: Lamar Woodley
Draft Year: 2007
The Steelers first second-round draft pick under head coach Mike Tomlin, Lamar Woodley played seven seasons in Pittsburgh where he appeared in 94 regular season games with 81 starts and another eight postseason games with seven starts including the Steelers 2008 Super Bowl victory and 2010 Super Bowl loss. Woodley had 57 regular season sacks for the Steelers and another 11 sacks in the playoffs. Being selected to the Pro Bowl and Second-Team All-Pro in 2009, Woodley had 304 career tackles with 68 being for loss and 98 quarterback hits in the regular season along with nine forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries with two being returned for touchdowns, 17 passes defensed, and five interceptions with one being returned for a touchdown. Released following the 2013 NFL season, Woodley played two more NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and Arizona Cardinals in 2015.
1: Le’Veon Bell
Draft Year: 2013
Although he only played for five seasons in Pittsburgh, running back Le’Veon Bell tops this list based on what he did over those five years. Being selected to the Pro Bowl three times and First-Team All-Pro twice, Bell started all 62 regular season games in which he appeared for the Steelers where he had 5,336 rushing yards on 1,229 attempts with 35 rushing touchdowns along with 2,660 receiving yards on 312 receptions and another seven receiving touchdowns. Bell also added another four playoff games with 424 rushes on 81 attempts and three touchdowns as well as 13 receptions for 91 yards and a receiving touchdown. Unfortunately, Bell chose to sit off the entire 2018 season instead of playing a second year under the franchise tag after he continually rejected contracts offered by the Steelers. Instead, Bell ended up settling for a much lower contract and bounced around to four different teams in three seasons from 2019 to 2021 and saw a massive drop in production.
So there are the top five draft picks of the Kevin Colbert era coming from the third round. Make sure you check back on Thursday for the next article which will highlight the first-round picks.
In case you missed the previous articles, they can be seen below: