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 6th round of the NFL draft.
T-5: Ryan Mundy
Draft Year: 2009
The Steelers selected the former Woodland Hills and West Virginia Mountaineer safety in the sixth round of the 2009 draft. Playing four years in Pittsburgh, Mundy appeared in all 64 regular season games and had five starts. While in Pittsburgh, Mundy had 131 tackles, four of which were for a loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, eight passes defensed, and interception. Mundy also had a 33 yard reception on a fake punt. Used primarily as a special teams player, Mundy played in four playoff games where he had one start in 2011 in Denver in place of Ryan Clark. Following his time with the Steelers, Mundy spent a season with the New York Giants where he started nine games and had 77 tackles along with an interception. Mundy’s best season of his career was his last in 2014 when he started every game for the Chicago Bears and had four interceptions and 103 tackles. Unfortunately Mundy was placed on IR during the preseason the next year due to a hip injury and never caught on with another NFL team.
T-5: Jonathan Dwyer
Draft Year: 2010
Jonathan Dwyer was another late-round selection by the Steelers who stuck around for his entire rookie contract. Not appearing until Week 17 his rookie season, Dwyer played a total of 36 games in four seasons with the Steelers where he had six starts in 2012. Dwyer had 230 rushes for 971 yards and two rushing touchdowns along with 27 receptions on 37 targets for 176 receiving yards. After his four seasons in Pittsburgh, Dwyer spent the 2014 season in Arizona where he only appeared in two games before being deactivated due to an arrest for domestic violence.
4: Anthony Chickillo
Draft Year: 2015
After making the 53-man roster to start his rookie season, the Steelers released Chickillo and signed him to the practice squad prior to Week 1. Three weeks later, the Steelers signed him back to the active roster where he appeared in seven games his rookie season. After exercising the exclusive rights option on Chickillo in 2017, the Steelers signed him to a restricted free agent tender in 2018. The 2019 offseason was the head-scratcher for the Steelers when they signed Chickillo to a two-year, $8 million contract. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Chickillo appeared and 65 games with nine starts where he had 97 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Chickillo rarely played more defensive snaps than special team snaps throughout his time with Pittsburgh, and the Steelers wisely released him before the second year of his contract kicked in. Chickillo bounced around from the New Orleans Saints to the Denver Broncos in 2020 and he announced his retirement from professional football in the summer of 2021.
3: Chris Kemoeatu
Draft Year: 2006
Inactive for all but one game is rookie season where he did not see a snap, Chris Kemoeatu appeared in three games with two starts his second season. After appearing in every game in 2007 without any starts, Kemoeatu was the full time starter at left guard for the Steelers in 2008 and was the starter in Super Bowl XLIII. Kemoeatu was signed to a five-year deal following that season but only played three more seasons for the Steelers before he was released. In all, Kemoeatu appeared and 75 regular season games with 53 starts as well as eight postseason games with seven starts.
2: Vince Williams
Draft Year: 2013
Vince Williams played eight seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers before announcing his retirement just before training camp in 2021. Thrust into the starting lineup his rookie season due to the injury to Larry Foote, Williams did not find himself to be a full-time starter again until the 2017 season. But it was in 2016 when Williams signed his extension for three more seasons to stick and Pittsburgh. In 2018, Williams signed another extension worth $18.6 million which led to him being released in the 2021 offseason in order to save salary cap space. Williams did sign back with the team at a lower rate only to later retire. In his eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Williams played in 121 regular season games with 69 starts with 479 tackles, 50 of which were for loss, and 20.5 sacks. Williams also had six fumble recoveries, five passes defensed, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Williams played in eight postseason games with the Steelers where he started two and had a total of 26 tackles.
1: Antonio Brown
Draft Year: 2010
Yeah, there was no doubt who was going to top this list. Possibly the second-greatest sixth-round draft pick in NFL history, Antonio Brown played nine years in Pittsburgh where he was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time First Team All-Pro selection. Leading the NFL in receiving yards in both 2014 and 2017, Brown appeared in 130 games with 103 starts where he had 837 receptions on 1,275 targets for 11,207 receiving yards and 74 touchdowns. Brown added another 10 playoff games with six starts with 837 yards on 51 receptions and four touchdowns. Second all-time in Steelers history in receiving yards and receptions to only Hines Ward, Antonio Brown fell off the rails with the Steelers at the end of the 2018 season and forced his way out of town via trade. Since his departure from the Steelers, Brown appeared in no more than eight games in a season and has had numerous issues both on and off the field.
So there are the top five draft picks of the Kevin Colbert era coming from the sixth round. Make sure you check back on Tuesday for the next article which will highlight the fifth-round picks.
In case you missed the previous article, it can be seen below: