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.
Since we have already looked at the best draft picks by round, let’s take a look at the worst 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 lack of longevity a key factor in determining whether it was a bad draft pick?
The next step as we count our way down will be players selected by the Steelers in the 3rd round of the NFL draft.
Note: Players drafted in 2020 and beyond will not be considered unless they are no longer on the Steelers.
Editor’s choice: Despite only having a career AV of 2, I refuse to put Matt Spaeth on this list. With 123 games and 72 starts over 9 years with 10 touchdowns, I did not put him on this list simply because he played a position where he is measured by his receiving and not his other contributions to raise his AV. His number of games played does not even compare to other members on this list.
5: Justin Layne
Draft Year: 2019
NFL games played: 52
When the Steelers selected Justin Lyne with their second third-round pick of the 2018 NFL draft, it was known he was a project at cornerback as he had been converted from wide receiver. Playing no defensive snaps his rookie season, Layne was relegated to special teams. Although he did play 117 defensive snaps in 2020, the results were not good as he gave up an 83.3% completion rate. In all, Layne played 145 defensive snaps for the Steelers as he was mainly a special teams player with 599 snaps. Failing to make the team the final year of his rookie deal, Layne spent time with both the Bears and the Giants in 2022.
4: Curtis Brown
Draft Year: 2011
NFL games played: 34
It was another defensive back wearing number 31 drafted 8 years prior who lands in the next spot. Chris Brown appeared in 34 games for the Steelers with no starts where he had 49 tackles and one pass defensed. Finishing the season on IR each of his first three seasons in Pittsburgh, Brown didn’t even make it to training camp as he was waived in March 2014. While he landed in training camp for the New York Jets the following year, Brown did not make the team.
3: Willie Reid
Draft Year: 2006
NFL games played: 7
Only appearing in seven games in two seasons with the Steelers, Willie Reid had one appearance as a rookie yet played in six games in his second season. In all he had four receptions on six targets for 54 yards but also have a fumble. Reid failed to make the team in 2008 but landed on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad but never appeared in another NFL game.
2: Dri Archer
Draft Year: 2014
NFL games played: 20
Falling under the “what were they thinking” category, Dri Archer was with the Steelers based on a 40 yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine but didn’t even make it two full seasons. Appearing in 12 games in his rookie season, Archer had 10 rushes for 40 yards as well as seven receptions for 23 yards. Used as a kick returner both in his rookie year and second season, Archer did not make very much of a splash and was released in November of 2015. Although he signed a futures contract with the New York Jets the following offseason, Archer was waived following the NFL draft but was claimed by the Buffalo Bills. Archer never reported to Buffalo and was out of the NFL.
1: Bruce Davis
Draft Year: 2008
NFL games played: 15
A defensive end in college, Bruce Davis did not transition well to being an outside linebacker for the Steelers after being drafted in 2008. Inactive for all but five games of his rookie season, Davis had no stats with the Steelers. After one season, Davis did not make the roster and was not signed to the practice squad. After bouncing around between New England, Denver, and San Francisco on their practice squads, Davis landed with the Oakland Raiders in 2010 where he appeared in six games as well as four more the following season before he was released. Continuing to bounce on practice squads, this time with Cincinnati and again with San Francisco, Davis never made it back to a 53-man roster.
So there are the worst draft picks of the Kevin Colbert era coming from the third round. Make sure you check back on Tuesday for the next article of the worst draft picks of the second round in the Kevin Colbert era.
In case you missed the previous articles on the top draft picks, they can be seen below:
The previous articles on the worst draft picks can be seen below: