Kevin Colbert ends Steelers tenure on a high note with impressive draft class

Kevin Colbert, general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Kevin Colbert, general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

I think most fans would agree that Kevin Colbert finished his symphony with a bang in his final draft as the GM of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

I’m not saying you need to agree with every decision Kevin Colbert has made over the past 22 years since taking over as general manager back in 2000, but I would beg you to name two other GMs who were more important to their team’s success during this time.

Admittedly, I’ve been frustrated with Colbert at times. I think the Steelers can be a little too focused on the present without enough regard for the state of the team in the future. I wasn’t a fan of past selections like Artie Burns, Terrell Edmunds, or Senquez Golson immediately after the picks were made, and my confidence in Colbert wavered at times.

However, despite his shortcomings, Colbert was a fantastic general manager who knew how to string together a competitive roster year after year. I’m hoping that the 2022 NFL Draft will be one of his greatest successes yet.

Last year, Colbert announced that he would be stepping down in 2022 following the draft, but apparently not before going out with a bang. Steelers fans easily predicted that Colbert was going to try to find Ben Roethlisberger’s successor in his final season as GM, and their pre-draft visits made this no secret.

While we predicted Pittsburgh would take a QB in round one, we didn’t know how the rest of the draft was going to play out. On paper, this is one of my favorite drafts in years.

Colbert didn’t disappoint in final draft as Steelers GM

Obviously, we really need years before we can see how this draft class is going to play out. However, if we were just to rate Colbert’s final draft based on the value of drafted players against the consensus, this would be near the top.

While some thought the Kenny Pickett selection with the 20th overall pick was a bit rich, they may not be doubting it when they get to watch him play soon — especially with the new toys Colbert has now surrounded him with.

In the second round, Pittsburgh got a remarkably gifted receiver in George Pickens. The standout Georgia product showed remarkable promise and even had first-round buzz before tearing his ACL early in the 2021 season and declaring for the NFL Draft this year. He has natural hands to pluck the ball from the air and wins as well as anyone at the catch point.

Two rounds later, the Steelers stole Calvin Austin in the compensatory fourth round. Though tiny, Austin is an electrifying player with phenomenal athletic traits and fantastic college production. He should be a dynamic weapon for Pittsburgh with the ball in his hands.

Perhaps my favorite pick in Colbert’s final draft, however, was DeMarvin Leal. The Texas A&M defensive lineman may have played edge at almost 290 pounds, but he has elite bend and the ability to generate quick pressure on the quarterback. He will be a valuable asset to Teryl Austin’s defense.

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Overall, Kevin Colbert made it almost impossible for Steelers fans to be upset with the results in his final draft. Not only did he spend all offseason doing his homework on the quarterbacks and leaving us with the signal-caller he thinks is best, but he also surrounded him with playmakers. I’ll be sad to see Colbert leave, but at least it looks like he will be walking away on a high note.