It’s been well-established that the Steelers don’t have a 1st round pick in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. It’s gone. In its place, Minkah Fitzpatrick, one of the best young safeties in the league with years of control and at a bargain price.
But they do have a 2nd rounder; pick 49 to be exact.
With several holes to fill and minimal salary cap room to work with (for now), it’s imperative the Steelers make their pick count.
A lot of that will fall on Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert. Since joining the team in 2000 as the Director of Football Operations the Steelers have drafted in the 2nd round seventeen of the twenty years, with varying degrees of success.
Yesterday we looked at Colbert’s draft classes of the 2010s.
Today we’re going back to the year 2000 to take a look at every single player the Steelers have drafted in the 2nd round while Kevin Colbert has been with the team in any capacity.
After a poor 1999 season, the Steelers had a high–especially for them–pick and selected Plaxico Burress with the #8 overall selection. In the 2nd round, 38th overall, they selected tackle Marvel Smith from Arizona State. Smith ended up playing his entire career with Pittsburgh, starting 108 of 111 games he appeared in making a Pro Bowl in 2004 and winning two Super Bowls.
A good start!
The 2001 Draft saw the Steelers go defense in the first two rounds starting with Casey Hampton as their 1st round selection. In the 2nd, the Steelers snagged Georgia linebacker Kendrell Bell. The inside linebacker had a fantastic start with the team, named as a 2nd team All-Pro and racking up nine sacks and 23 tackles for loss in his first season with the team. Unfortunately injuries would cut him down in his prime and he never had a season like his rookie year again. After four years with the team he signed with Kansas City, where he finished his career.
Following their appearance in the AFC Title Game, the Steelers had the 30th pick in the 2002 Draft. With the 62nd selection, the team took Indiana WR/QB Antwaan Randle El. Randle El played four seasons with the Steelers, mostly as a wide receiver and punt returner, but also as the team’s primary source of gadget plays. You may remember this one.
Between the Steelers and Redskins, Randle El had a very solid career with six career return touchdowns, 370 catches, 4905 total yards from scrimmage and six passing touchdowns over nine seasons.
The Steelers first whiff under Colbert in the 2nd round, Alonzo Jackson was picked #59 overall, sandwiched between Troy Polamalu and 4th round pick Ike Taylor.
The 2004 Draft hewed closely to 2003 model. The Steelers picked defensive back Ricardo Colclough out of Tusculum. Before Colclough was Ben Roethlisberger. After, was solid tackle Max Starks. Colclough played 36 games for the Steelers, mostly in a special team’s role.
Following another AFC Title Game loss to the Patriots, the Steelers had the 30th pick, with which they selected Heath Miller. In the second round the team went with defensive back Bryant McFadden out of Florida State. While not a superstar, McFadden solidly contributed to two Super Bowls, appearing in every playoff game in 2005 and starting in each game during their 2008 run.
The Steelers did not have a 2nd round pick after finally breaking through with their first Super Bowl win under Bill Cowher.
The first draft for Mike Tomlin was a great draft one for the defense. After grabbing Lawrence Timmons in the first round, the Steelers drafted LaMarr Woodley with the #46 overall pick in the 2nd round. After playing exclusively as a backup in 2007, Woodley came into his own in 2008 with 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss, as well as six sacks in the team’s run to their second Super Bowl win of the decade.
The 2008 Draft was not kind to the Steelers. First round pick Rashard Mendenhall was a solid starter for four years, but the Steelers 2nd round selection, Limas Sweed was a major bust. A big speed receiver out of Texas, Sweed had major problems catching the ball and finished his career with only seven recptions for 69 years. Definitely not nice.
The Steelers did not have a second round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
The 2010 Draft produced three solid starters for the Steelers, and possibly two future Hall of Famers in Antonio Brown and Maurkice Pouncey. However, the 2nd round only produced Jason Worilds who’s most notable for retiring before free agency and converting to a Jehovah’s Witness.
Although he’s probably played his last snap for the Steelers, tackle Marcus Gilbert has been a popular and productive 2nd round pick for the team. The 63rd overall out of Florida, Gilbert played in 88 games for the Steelers over the years, starting 87.
After getting a steal in David DeCastro at #24 overall, the Steelers went back to the offensive lineman well with Mike Adams from Ohio State. Despite a positive drug test, the team took a chance on the talented tackle after a personal plea from Adams to the Steelers head brass and owner Art Rooney II. It didn’t work out nearly as well as team’s 1st rounder. Adams played three years for the team before injuries sabotaged his career.
One of the rare, if not only Steelers drafts of the 20th century where the 2nd round pick proved superior to the 1st rounder. After Jarvis Jones was selected 17th overall, the team took Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell with the 48th overall selection. Despite a falling out at the end of his tenure and a year-long hold out, Bell was a two time All-Pro selection and three time pro bowler in his five season on the Steelers roster. A workhorse rushing and receiving, Bell had nearly 8000 total yards from scrimmage and 42 touchdowns with the team.
After a win in the 2nd round the season before, the Steelers once again struck second round paydirt with Stephon Tuitt, the 46th pick in the 2014 Draft. A contributor to this day, Tuitt has been a contributor from day one and was really coming into his own before getting injured this season.
A big time miss at corner, the team chose Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson with the 56th overall pick in the 2nd round. Golson’s selection was indicative of Colbert and the Steelers’ inability to find defensive backs in the draft at any pick.
The Steelers went all-in looking for help in the defensive backfield drafting Artie Burns in the 1st round and safety Sean Davis out of Maryland with their 2nd round selection (#58 overall). After promising early returns from both, Burns completely flamed out and Sean Davis’ injury lead to the Steelers acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick. This one is certainly trending in the wrong direction.
Take away the 2019 season and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 2nd round selection would look like it was on its way to being Colbert’s best ever 2nd round pick, and it may still be, but some questions have arisen as Smith-Schuster adjusted to life as a first string receiver. Despite the uncertainty, there’s no denying that Smith-Schuster put up monster numbers in his first two seasons with the team, the best ever for a receiver of his age. The 2020 season, with a ostensibly healthy Ben Roethlisberger will be a good litmus test.
For the second season in a row, the Steelers went with a receiver in the 2nd round, drafting James Washington out of Oklahoma State. Known for his ability to make combat catches, Washington played with now Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in college and the two had a strong connection, especially down the field. Washington struggled mightily his first season and had only 16 receptions for 217 yards, but showed growth in 2019 finishing with 44 receptions for 735 yards. Seeing if Washington can make the next step in 2020 with Roethlisberger will be key in grading his selection.