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 first step as we count our way down will be players selected by the Steelers in the 7th round of the NFL draft.
T-5: Pressley Harvin III
Draft Year: 2021
That’s correct. The punter many Steelers fans wish to replace after two seasons is tied for the fifth spot of the best seventh-round draft picks over the last 23 years. Despite only playing two seasons, Harvin’s 32 games played over that span puts him ahead of many of the other seventh-round draft picks who simply never made the team. Harvin has 139 regular-season punts for a 43.6 average. In only one postseason game, Harvin has 7 punts for a 49.7 postseason average.
T-5: Tre Norwood
Draft Year: 2021
The other seventh-round draft pick from the 2021 NFL draft, Norwood also tied for the fifth spot on the list. Tre’ Norwood, just like Pressley Harvin, has appeared in 32 games in two seasons for the Steelers. Norwood has 61 career regular-season tackles and four passes defensed as well as an interception through two seasons. Norwood has two more tackles and an additional two passes defensed in his one career playoff game.
4: David Johnson
Draft Year: 2009
In four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2009 through 2013, tight end/fullback David Johnson appeared in 52 games and even had a touchdown in 2011. Leaving for the San Diego Chargers for two seasons, Johnson returned to the Steelers for one last go-round in 2016. In all, Johnson appeared in 68 regular-season games with 31 starts where he had 41 targets with 29 receptions for 296 yards in a touchdown. As for the playoffs, Johnson had five starts in seven games where he had one reception for 1 yard.
3: Tyler Matakevich
Draft Year: 2016
Sometimes being a key contributor on special teams is enough to make a seventh-round draft pick extremely valuable. In four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker Tyler Matakevich played in 63 games with one start. Matakevich had 77 tackles and one pass defensed in the regular season and added a tackle in four postseason games. Leaving for the Buffalo Bills after his rookie contract, “Dirty Red” is still going strong as an NFL special teams player and reserve linebacker.
2: Kelvin Beachum
Draft Year: 2012
Starting off as a reserve across most of the offensive line, Kelvin Beachum appeared in seven games with five starts in his rookie season in 2012 with all his snaps coming at either jumbo tight end or right tackle. In his second season, Beachum filled in at center in Week 1 when Maurkice Pouncey was injured and played snaps at both left guard and right tackle throughout the season before settling in at left tackle. Beachum played every snap of the season at left tackle in 2014 and was also the Steelers starter in 2015 until a knee injury ended his season after six games. With Alejandro Villanueva coming on as a viable replacement for the rest of the season, Beachum has gone on to play another seven years in the NFL between the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals. In fact, Beachum signed such a lucrative contract after being with the Steelers it gave them the third-round compensatory draft pick in which they selected James Conner in 2017.
1: Brett Keisel
Draft Year: 2002
The gold standard for seventh-round draft picks in the modern Steelers era, Brett Keisel played 12 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010. After only playing five games his rookie season and missing his entire 2003 season due to an injured shoulder, Keisel would not have landed on this list at all based on his first three years in the NFL. But in 2006, Keisel made his way to be one of the Steelers full-time starters on the defensive line. The two-time Super Bowl champion played in 156 regular season games with 114 starts. Keisel had 408 tackles, 33 of which were for loss, and 30.0 sacks. Keisel added seven force fumbles and nine fumble recoveries with 36 passes defensed and two career interceptions, one of which he returned 79 yards for a touchdown. Keisel played another 16 games with eight starts in the postseason where we had 41 tackles, 3.0 sacks, three passed defensed, one forced fumble, and two football recoveries with one sealing the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII victory.
So there are the top five draft picks of the Kevin Colbert era coming from the seventh round. Make sure you check back on Thursday for the next article which will highlight the sixth-round picks.