The Associated Press
As mock drafts yield to reality tonight, two things we could reasonably assume regarding the Steelers:
They likely will not trade, and whoever they draft, they likely will get it right.
General manager Kevin Colbert said Monday they were not likely to move up in the first round of the draft, but kept his options open for moving down from No. 25 tonight. The Steelers have not made a move either way in the first round in 10 years, since they climbed seven spots to No. 25 in 2006 to draft Santonio Holmes.
They also have made the fewest trades of any NFL team during the draft in the past five years, doing it twice — in 2012 to move up in the fourth round (Alameda Ta’amu) and in 2013 to acquire an extra fourth-round pick (Shamarko Thomas).
In light of how those worked out, as well as their trades in which they threw away two 2016 picks last year to acquire kicker Josh Scobee (sixth) and cornerback Brandon Boykin (fifth), they should be even more reluctant to trade.
But a study published last week that covered the past 20 drafts shows the Steelers did the best job of any NFLteam over the past two decades, even though during most of those drafts they were selecting closer to the end of rounds than they were to the top.
The Washington Post used the metric known as “draft value” that was created by ProFootballReference.com, the football bible for statistical NFL history. It measures various factors that include games started, stats, team performance and honors.
The Steelers easily came out on top with a number of 16.37, more than one full point ahead of second-place Indianapolis at 15.27. Cleveland finished last at 9.55.
Of those 20 drafts, Colbert has been point man of 16, which becomes 17 tonight. Have Colbert and the Steelers had their misses during that time? Certainly — Ziggy Hood, Dri Archer, Mike Adams, Limas Sweed, Ricardo Colclough, Alonzo Jackson, etc. Every team has them, but the Steelers have not butchered first-round picks in this century the way they did even in Chuck Noll’s days.
Yes, the great Chuck Noll failed miserably on many first-round picks. Here’s a list:
Greg Hawthorne (1979), Darryl Sims (1985), John Rienstra (1986), Aaron Jones (1988), Tim Worley (1989), Tom Ricketts (1989), Huey Richardson (1991).
Bill Cowher was not without his misses, either (Jamain Stephens, 1996).
They have not had as big a swing and miss in the first round in the past 16 drafts to compare with those, although if Jarvis Jones does not pick things up in 2016, he could be a candidate. Even Ziggy Hood had his moments.
Colbert and Mike Tomlin are recognized around the league as among the top duos in the NFL, not just when it comes to drafting college players but in acquiring and keeping talent and in putting it to good use.
“Kevin and Mike Tomlin should get a lot of credit,’’ said Tom Modrak, executive director of the Blesto scouting service. “Those two guys should be team of the year. Through suspensions, injuries, a new defensive coordinator, the running back hurt — there were a whole lot of things in there — the Steelers don’t cry. They just go play, it seems to me. If there was ever an award given out, they should have it for overcoming stuff.”
The Steelers certainly have their share of critics when it comes to drafts, particularly those of more recent vintage, and they’ve acknowledged their failures.
“We review every pick we’ve ever made and we talk about it and try to get better every year so we can avoid those mistakes,’’ Colbert said Monday. “But, we’ll probably make some more. I don’t know if that’s comforting to everybody. It’s not comforting to me, but it’s the truth.”
So too are the facts to back up their consistent successful drafting through the years.
— Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette