The Pittsburgh Steelers had an up and down 2015 when it comes to transactions. In this post we will review the best and worst moves Kevin Colbert made this season. Included in this will be the 2015 draft class, which also had it’s goods and bads.
The good: Deangelo Williams has to be one of the best free agent pick ups in Colbert’s career. The free agent from Carolina had 907 yards rushing, and 367 receiving along with 11 touchdowns. It became even a more important signing with Le’Veon Bell going down in week 6. Signing Williams to a 2 year 4 million dollar contract was a fantastic move. Next we have kicker Chris Boswell. After going through 3 other kickers, the Steelers struck gold with Boswell. Boswell went 29 for 32 on field goals and 26 for 27 on extra points. This was a key signing that settled down what could have been a bad situation for the Steelers. Cornerback Ross Cockrell was released by the Buffalo Bills before being signed by the Steelers. Cockrell played well at times, including 2 interceptions in limited plating time. It took a long time, but Brandon Boykin became a key member of the secondary in the second half of the season. Who knows what could have been if the Steelers didn’t mysteriously keep running Antwon Blake out there to be torched week after week. The Steelers gave up a 5th round pick for Boykin, who is now likely to leave via free agency. Other slightly notable additions were Jordan Todman, who played well in the playoffs. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint also had a good playoff run. Roosevelt Nix had a very good year on special teams, before getting injured.
As far as the draft goes, first round pick linebacker Bud Dupree had promising season. Dupree had 4 sacks in his rookie season, and there’s reason to believe his future is bright. Wide receiver Sammie Coates, a third round pick, gave us flashes of what may happen in his playoff performance against Denver. Coates caught 3 passes for 61 yards and looked very dangerous doing so. Finally 5th round selection Jesse James had some flashes during the season. The tight end caught just 8 passes for 56 yards, but was third on the depth chart all season.
The bad: Let’s start with Josh Scobee who was acquired from Jacksonville for a 6th round pick after kicker Shaun Suisham was lost for the season. Scobee missed 2 field goals in the season opener against the Patriots, and 2 more against the Ravens in week 4 before being released. I put Mike Vick in the bad category even though he went 1-1 in his 2 starts with the Steelers. Vick looked unprepared when he took the field as a starter. He struggled to complete any passes to wide recievers, especially in the middle of the field. Add to that the fact that Vick no longer is a running threat and what you have is a very poor quarterback. The Steeelers eventually switched to Landry Jones at quarterback, and Vick did not play again all season. Last, but not least is Jacoby Jones. Jones was signed after being released by San Diego to do one thing, and one thing only……..return kicks. What Jacoby Jones did was was fumble 3 times and look completely unimpressive in his other returns. Colbert’s inability to acquire a kick returner really cost the Steelers in the playoffs . The Steelers tried Markus Wheaton and it hurt them in a big way against Denver.
When it comes to the draft, the bad comes from the lack of contributions from the 2015 class. No one after 1st round pick Dupree played in more then a few games. Second round pick Senquez Golson missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Fourth rounder Doran Grant and sixth rounder Anthony Chickillo were released at one point and went unclaimed. They both were resigned to the practice squad and eneded up playing sparingly.
The Grade: Kevin Colbert earns a solid B in my book. The draft looks below average now, but we could look back and see Dupree, Coates, Golson, and Jesse James all looking like fantastic picks. Coates is especially exciting given his physical tools and how he played against Denver. Let’s not forget the Steeelers track record on drafting wide receivers under Colbert. Antonio Brown in the 6th round, Martavis Bryant in the 4th round, and Manny Sanders in the 3rd round tell you all you need to know. On the free agency side, DeAngelo Williams was a home run. As was getting Chris Boswell out of nowhere. These signings far outway the Jacoby Jones-Josh Scobee misfires. What tips the scales are the small moves which created depth in postions that really needed it. Try to imagine the secondary without Cockrell or Boykin. Or having a repeat of 2014 playoffs with no suitable backup running back. Todman and Toussaint were both keys to the victory against the Bengals. Sometimes the small moves have the biggest impact.