Reports have come out that this may indeed be Kevin Colbert’s last year as Steelers general manager. If that’s the case, he has had quite a career as the team’s talent evaluator. Let’s look at the top ten moves Colbert has made in his tenure in Pittsburgh:
10. Trade Antonio Brown:
Words almost can’t describe the lengths Antonio Brown was going through to destroy his trade value back in 2019. He did everything in his power to shoot his way out of Pittsburgh, while making himself nearly untradable in the process. Yet somehow Kevin Colbert managed to get third and fifth round picks from the then Oakland Raiders. The Steelers general manager will never get enough credit for getting the amount of return he did for this troubled player.
9. Signing Joe Haden:
The Steelers corner situation can only be described as a hot mess going into the 2017 season. Signing Joe Haden stabilized a troubled position that season, and for years to come. Haden has been excellent since his initial signing, including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2019. Not bad for a $9 million per year investment.
8. Drafting Le’Veon Bell:
It’s not often you get a generational talent in the second round of the NFL draft. That’s exactly what Colbert did however in 2013 draft. Bell was among the top running backs in the league right up until the time he decided to derail his career. His decision to sit out the 2018 season cost him a Hall of Fame trajectory. He would never again be the same back. The Steelers got the best of a career that was much too short. Two All-Pros and one other Pro bowl in five years is a pretty good haul for the 48th overall selection.
7. Signing James Farrior:
The James Farrior signing is widely considered Kevin Colbert’s best free agent move. The Steelers simply do not spend big money in free agency as is their philosophy. Having said that, Farrior was a tremendous acquisition. The former first round pick of the Jets spent ten years with the Steelers. He was a key cog in the great Steelers defenses of the 2000s. Farrior was a two time Pro Bowler, and more importantly a two time Super Bowl champion for this franchise.
6. All the first round successes:
There will be a few first round picks that stand out above the rest, and they will come later on in this post. There were so many first round successes by Kevin Colbert we decided just to lump them into one tremendous category. Players like Cam Heyward, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Heath Miller, Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree, on and on and on. Keep in mind also that the majority of these choices were in the back half of the first round the entire Colbert tenure. It has been a remarkable run of first round draft hits, with only a few busts in between.
5. Drafting TJ Watt:
Getting the all-time single season sack leader at the end of the first round is quite an accomplishment for sure. TJ Watt is now the premiere pass rusher in the NFL, and Colbert got him with the 28th overall selection. Watt might be the best of several sure fire Hall of Famers that the Steelers general manager has obtained in his tenure.
4. Drafting Antonio Brown:
Love him or hate him, Antonio Brown is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. Another player who derailed his own career, Brown was by far the best receiver in the league from 2011 to 2018. He amassed 4 All-Pro selections, 7 Pro-Bowls, led the league in receiving twice, and was as member of the All-Decade team for the 2010s. All this from a player that was drafted 195th overall in the 2010 draft. His selection is one of the best draft values in NFL history, and certainly the best for Colbert. Top 5 draft values in the Kevin Colbert era
3. Signing James Harrison:
James Harrison bounced around as an undrafted free agent for several years before he stuck with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He started his career in Pittsburgh, before bouncing around and even ending up in NFL Europe for a season. The Steelers found themselves short on outside linebackers in the 2004 pre-season, so Colbert decided to bring back Harrison for a second time. That would prove to be among the best decision he ever made in his tenure in Pittsburgh. Two Super Bowls, two All-Pros, and five Pro Bowls later, and James Harrison will go down as one of the greatest linebackers in Steelers history. We’d be remiss by not mentioning he also has the greatest single play in Super bowl history as well. https://youtu.be/uYtxoNgvIFI Not bad for a guy picked off the scrap heap.
2. Trading up for Troy Polamalu:
Identifying one of the greatest defensive talents in NFL history, then going out and trading up to acquire him has to be Kevin Colbert’s shining moment. Colbert gave up his third and sixth round picks to move up eleven spots to draft Troy Polamalu. That’s quite a steal for one of the best defensive players of all time.
1. Drafting Ben Roethlisberger:
Of all the great accomplishments by Kevin Colbert, without this one this organization never wins another Super Bowl. Drafting Ben Roethlisberger seems like a no-brainer now, but a the time it wasn’t all that automatic. It has been widely reported that then head coach Bill Cowher preferred a guard over the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Thankfully, Colbert selected Roethlisberger and the rest is history. This was the best of several incredible moves by one of the best general managers in modern NFL history. Kevin Colbert will be missed by this franchise. His successor can only hope to have a fraction of the success in the future.