Steelers’ Kevin Colbert: Best General Manager in the NFL?


Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Kevin Colbert, Vice President and General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Earlier this week Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld compiled a list of the NFL’s Best GMs 2020 and Kevin Colbert, Vice President and General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was ranked second.

Right away, though, one can quibble with Daugherty’s methodology, because the No. 1 guy on his list is Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, who isn’t even a general manager.

As Daugherty explains: “For the purposes of this article, I consider the ‘general manager’ to be whomever is believed to have the biggest role in shaping the roster, regardless of who has the official title.”

That’s a pretty liberal interpretation of “general manager,” and the Patriots’ longtime Director of Player Personnel, Nick Caserio, might rightly take offense at being totally overlooked.

Anyway, “all front office activity—from players and coaches to draft picks and contracts [was] taken into consideration” when making the list, notes Daugherty, adding that “past achievements are not forgotten but recent history is given greater emphasis.”

Kevin Colbert’s Track Record

As for his reasons for rating the Steelers’ GM second overall, Daugherty says “Kevin Colbert has been getting the big things right for his entire two-decade run as general manager,” making the case that Colbert has “arguably the league’s keenest eye for high-end defensive talent and wide receiver gems.”

To be sure, the club’s performance under his watch has been impressive.

As noted by Teresa Varley of, “He was a part of building the Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII championship teams, as well as three AFC Championship teams. [And] during his time with the team the Steelers have won nine division titles, earned 12 playoff berths and had 15 winning seasons.”

It’s also worth noting that franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was drafted on his watch, and he has overseen some stellar draft classes, including the 2017 draft class, which is considered one of the three best in the NFL that year.

Draft Busts Under Kevin Colbert

Meanwhile, the draft busts on Colbert’s watch have been relatively few and far between, with 2015 second-rounder Senquez Golson almost certainly the greatest bust of all, considering that Golson—a cornerback from Ole Miss—never played a down for the team, even during the preseason.

Offensive tackle Mike Adams, a second-round pick in 2012, was also underwhelming, as was 2013 first-round pick Jarvis Jones, though Jones was part of an especially talent-poor first-round that saw few teams get a decent NFL player.

As for recent roster-building, Daugherty does take issue with Colbert’s current approach to the backup QB position, arguing that the lack of a proven veteran backup was the difference between making the playoffs and not in 2019. He also notes that it could be a problem again in 2020, and some observers still consider the Steelers’ backup QB position to be one of the biggest roster holes in the NFL.

The reality, though, is that the Steelers aren’t currently in a position to spend more on their backup quarterbacks. Anyway, Colbert & Co. want to find out more about what they have in second-stringer Mason Rudolph—to find out whether he is something more or less than former starter Neil O’Donnell, who led the Steelers to one Super Bowl appearance in the 1990s.

As for the three other “general managers” in the Top Five, Daugherty has chosen Andy Reid/Brett Veich of the Kansas City Chiefs, Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Mickey Loomis of the New Orleans Saints, rated at 3-5, respectively.

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