When its comes to the NFL draft, very few general managers can match the resume of Kevin Colbert. His draft success has been the driving force that has kept the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoff hunt for his entire twenty years on the job. You don’t do it that long without having a few misses over the years however. The debate on what Kevin Colbert’s biggest draft bust can be narrowed down to two players, either Artie Burns or Jarvis Jones.
The case for Artie Burns:
One thing was abundantly clear going into the 2016 draft, the Steelers were in desperate need for defensive backs. Owner Art Rooney III said as much in his annual state of the team interview that year. And when Mr. Rooney talks, the Steelers brass listens.
We are all familiar with the story from there. Pittsburgh was high on University of Houston corner William Jackson, only to have him drafted one spot before them. A bit of panic ensued, and the Steelers ended up with the next defensive back on their board……..Artie Burns. As is often the case, desperation and panic do not lead to very good decisions. Burns may have been high on their list of defensive backs, but he was nowhere near a first round talent.
It started out ok for the University of Miami product. Burns managed three interceptions in six starts during his first season. His lack of awareness and concentration lapses were chalked up to being the usual rookie mistakes. Unfortunately things never improved. In 2019, Burns struggled to get on the field even as a special teams player. He had been passed over on the roster by third round pick Justin Layne. It’s clear now that Artie Burns will be one of the select few first round picks who will not have their fifth year options picked up. That alone could be enough to make Burns the biggest draft bust for Kevin Colbert.
The case for Jarvis Jones:
This was a classic case of college production versus athletic testing, sprinkled in with a little bit of desperation. The Pittsburgh Steelers were definitely in need of some pass rushing help going into the 2013 draft. Jarvis Jones seemed to fit that bill coming off back to back double digit sack seasons at the university of Georgia. His testing at the NFL draft combine told a different story however. Jones tested extremely poorly in just about every category. The Steelers chose to ignore the testing, and selected Jones 17th overall in 2013.
Jarvis Jones pass rushing numbers were abysmal in his four years in Pittsburgh. He never managed more than two sacks in any season, despite playing in all but 14 games over that span. Jones could not overcome the lack of athleticism which is crucial at the 3/4 outside linebacker position. Because of this, Jones is also on the short list of first round picks who did not come back for their fifth year.
When it comes to a Kevin Colbert draft bust, these two are head and shoulders above the rest. So much so, it’s almost too close to call as to which was the worst. At the end of the day, Artie Burns has to nudge out Jones in this competition. The fact that Burns played only ten games in 2019 despite being healthy tells you all you need to know. He had fallen so out of favor, the team did not trust him even as a special teams player.
Jarvis Jones on the other hand played out his final season in Pittsburgh as a semi-regular starter. He finished out his final season with 42 tackles, one sack, one interception, and two forced fumbles. Not nearly first round production, but not in the complete failure category either.
Keep an eye on 2018 first round pick Terrell Edmunds. After two seasons, there isn’t much to like about this pick for the Steelers. If Edmunds does not improve in the nest few years, he could give these two a run for their money. For a deeper list of draft busts Saturday morning top 10 list: Top 10 Kevin Colbert draft busts check out this post.
For more on the Artie Burns draft you can go here: Artie Burns: A cautionary tale