Kevin Colbert’s immediate and most important impact on the draft was to correct the Steelers early round blunders. One needs only to compare beyond Colbert’s first two years of day one draft selections to Tom Donahue’s last two years of day one draft selections for evidence.
In 2000 and 2001 Colbert selected Plaxico Burress, Marvel Smith, Kendrick Clancy, Casey Hampton, and Kendrell Bell.
Burress failed to reach his potential with the Steelers, but overall he provided good value. Marvel Smith is a Pro Bowler and our best offensive lineman. Clancy was quite capable as 4th lineman and part-time starter. Casey Hampton is another Pro Bowler. Kendrell Bell did ultimately flame out, but he was an impact player as a rookie – in the most literal sense of the word (he also made his presence known, when not injured, during his sophomore season.)
In 1998 and 1999, Tom Donahue’s first day selections consisted of Alan Faneca, Jeremey Staat, Chris Conrad, Hines Ward, Troy Edwards, Scott Shields, Joey Porter, Kris Farris, and Amos Zereoue.
- Alan Faneca, Hines Ward, and Joey Porter were unequivocally phenomenal picks and represent some of Tom Donahoe’s best draft decisions.
In fact, forced to choose, you’d might very well take that threesome over Plaxico Burress, Marvel Smith, and Casey Hampton.
- But Tom Donahue traded up to pick up Staat, who was a horrendous bust.
Chris Conrad, Scott Shields, and Kris Farris went beyond being busts; these men not only failed to produce they all represented loss of value. Adding insult to injury, the Steelers were counting on all of these men to fill essential needs. (Zereoue is a wash. Clearly he was a pick up in terms of talent. However, he never reached his potential, but find no fault with Tom Donahoe for that.)
Colbert maintained that streak in his “second quarter.” Kendall Simmons, Antwaan Randle El, Chris Hope, and Troy Polamalu were all starters on the Super Bowl team. Alonzo Jackson qualifies as Colbert’s first day one disappointment.
During Colbert’s first four seasons his day two drafting has been solid, although not spectacular. Colbert found Clark Haggans on day two in 2000, and Ike Taylor in 2003. And of course, he took Brett Keisel with his seventh pick in 2003. Verron Hayes provided good value as a fifth round pick in 2002.
The bottom line is, the Steelers draft picks during the first half of the Colbert era were on the mark. Early round picks delivered value and either filled immediate needs or grew into starters or significant contributors.
[For an analysis of more recent Steeler drafts see part II “The Colbert Record: Steelers Drafts ’04-’07“]