Five Best Draft Choices of the Kevin Colbert Era for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2011

Five Best Draft Choices of the Kevin Colbert Era for the Pittsburgh Steelers

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    With the draft only weeks away and the fact that it is regularly the most pivotal point of the Pittsburgh Steelers' off season, it's a good time to check out how the Steelers have managed to be so good over the past decade.

    Kevin Colbert has been the team's GM since 2000. During that time the franchise has won two Superbowl rings.

    It is impossible to overstate the value of Colbert as a GM. He may have his misses(Limas Sweed comes to mind) but there isn't any GM in the league-scratch that- there isn't any person in the world that doesn't get somethings wrong at some stage.

5. Mike Wallace Third Round—2009

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    Mike Wallace has quickly become the Pittsburgh Steelers' first choice receiver after they stole him in the draft of two years ago.

    Wallace put up impressive numbers in his rookie season as the third choice receiver and didn't struggle moving to the first choice this year.

    Wallace is picked at by various pockets of the media for his route running but in reality that is only done because he is a speed guy. Typically speed reliant players do not have the versatility to run certain routes or the bravery to catch a ball over the middle but Wallace has routinely done this throughout his two seasons in the NFL.

    He has already forced his way into the elite section of receivers in the NFL.

    When you consider Darrius Heyward-Bey was the first of ten receivers chosen ahead of Wallace you understand the talent it takes to draft effectively.

4. LaMarr Woodley Second Round—2007

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    Some people may have forgotten that LaMarr Woodley was actually the team's second round selection that year. Lawrence Timmons was the first.

    He was the fifth defensive end taken in that draft but there is no doubt over who has become the best NFL player. Colbert's ability to recognize how well Woodley would transition to a 3-4 linebacker, from playing with his hand on the ground in college, was key to the success of this selection.

    Woodley did not start his rookie season but since then has been a wrecking ball for the team. He consistently puts up double digits in sacks and is great at setting the edge in the running game.

    Woodley was franchise tagged last month which represents his value to the team. Should he somehow hit free agency in 2011, he would be one of the most sought after players in the whole league.

3. Ben Roethlisberger First Round-2004

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    There is always a certain amount of luck that comes with drafting a franchise quarterback but nonetheless Colbert should be given credit for pulling the trigger on Roethlisberger early in the 2004 draft.

    Roethlisberger was the third quarterback off the board by the time he was chosen with the 11th pick but that did not deter the Steelers, who have reaped the rewards of his knack for winning Superbowls.

    Roethlisberger and left tackle Max Starks are the only remaining players from the 2004 draft on the roster but nonetheless he alone makes that year's draft a successful one.

2. Brett Keisel Seventh Round—2002

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    It's really difficult to believe that Brett Keisel fell to the seventh round in 2002. He was the 242nd overall pick from that draft.

    Keisel has been a major reason why Pittsburgh's defense has been so good against the run over the years.

    He gets almost zero recognition because he plays in the formidable shadow of Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith, who themselves barely get enough due for their play.

    Keisel excelled on special teams before making his way into the lineup after the 2005 Superbowl. He has been a constant there ever since and was recently rewarded with a multi year contract tying him to the team until 2014.

1. Troy Polamalu First Round—2003

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    This drafting thing is easy isn't it?

    I mean didn't everyone see that Troy Polamalu was going to be the most dynamic playmaking threat on the defensive side of the ball for the next decade or so during the 2003 NFL draft?

    Not exactly.

    On April 26th, 2003, the Kansas City Chiefs were on the clock mulling over who to pick with the 16th overall selection in Madison Square Garden, New York. The Chiefs had no need for a safety and their GM Carl Peterson decided to answer a call from Pittsburgh's GM Kevin Colbert.

    Colbert offered the Chiefs third and sixth round choices in order to swap first round picks. The trade that materialized moved the Steelers from the 27th position in the draft board to 16th where they ultimately chose Troy Polamalu.

    Polamalu was at the very least a top three selection from that first round overall behind at best Dallas Clark and Nnamdi Asomugha.

    No other player has made as much of an impact on his team than Polamalu. He is the only player on the current roster that could be considered to be more important than franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

    Colbert's ability to recognize this and proactively move up for the safety instead of hoping he'd fall was a stroke of genius.

Other Considerations

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    Casey Hampton First Round 2001

    Casey lost out in the numbers game. If 3-4 defensive tackles ever have a shot at making the hall of fame, Hampton has the best aim. He has been a vital cog in the Steelers' historically good rushing defense over the past decade.

     

    Evander Hood First Round 2009

    Hood just needs more time on the field to prove his worth of a place on this list. He was excellent in the place of Aaron Smith during last season but remains a back up for now.

     

    Willie Colon Fourth Round 2006

    Had Colon not been injured this season he may have had a chance of cracking the top five. Colon has been the best of an average bunch for the Steelers over the past few seasons and even after he missed the whole of the 2010 season will be difficult to bring back in free agency.

     

    Larry Foote Fourth Round 2002

    Foote had won two Superbowls with the Steelers as a starter before a brief stint in Detroit. He is an excellent run stuffing linebacker who perfectly fit in Dick LeBeau's defensive scheme.

     

    Maurkice Pouncey First Round 2010

    The only reason Pouncey is not near the very top of the least is the fact that he has only played one season in the league. Pouncey was an all-pro center as a rookie with a great attitude and even better level of talent. If he stays on his current path he could be on the way to a hall of fame career.