Since the advent of free agency, no team has been as thoroughly dedicated to building through the draft than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although drafting is a collective enterprise in Pittsburgh, Kevin Colbert is the individual most closely tied to those choices, and so a look at his record is in order the 2008 NFL draft approaches.
Colbert arrived in February 2000 shortly after Bill Cowher’s triumph over Tom Donahoe in a power struggle. People forget that many (yours truly included) initially thought that Dan Rooney had chosen the wrong man. Back then Tom Donahoe was widely regarded by both the local and national press as one of the NFL’s best executives. In the same vein, many wrote off Colbert’s hiring as Dan Rooney simply “selecting the best available candidate who happened to graduate from North Catholic.”
Tom Donahoe’s claim to fame was that he had done more with less. A big part of Donahoe’s success was his penchant for making late round picks — guys like Darren Perry (8th, ’92), Willie Williams (6th, ’93), Myron Bell, (5th, ’94), Lee Flowers (5th, ’95) and Carlos Emmons (7th, ’96) – who grew into solid starters. Yet, for all these second day successes, Donahue misfired badly with several early picks during the latter half of the 1990’s. (Jamain Stephens, anyone?)
With eight drafts under his belt, we can conveniently divide his record into the all too original titles, “The Colbert Record: Steeler drafts from ’00 to ’03” and “The Colbert Record: Steeler drafts ‘04’ to’07.”