Steelers’ Kevin Colbert Ranked as NFL’s Best General Manager


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

On Tuesday Matt Miller of The Draft Scout released his ranking of the best general managers in the NFL, and lo and behold, Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert comes out on top.

“Colbert successfully navigated replacing legendary head coach Bill Cowher with Mike Tomlin; he’s overseen the roster for two Super Bowl wins; he’s helped manage difficult personalities (Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell); kept a competitive roster around an expensive veteran quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger); hit on draft picks high [and] low; and [completed] major trades (Minkah Fitzpatrick, Devin Bush) that have bolstered the roster,” notes Miller.

Never mind all the Hall of Fame (HOF) and HOF-caliber players he has drafted, including the aforementioned Roethlisberger, as well as Troy Polamalu, Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, T.J. Watt and Maurkice Pouncey, the latter of whom retired in February.

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Colbert’s Best and Worst Moves?

Miller goes on to try identify the best and worst moves of each of the named general managers, and here his analysis of Colbert is suspect.

Miller cites Colbert’s best move as the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was acquired from the Miami Dolphins in 2019 in exchange for the team’s 2020 first-round pick. It’s been a great trade, as Fitzpatrick has been named first-team All-Pro in both of the seasons in which he has played for the Steelers. But it’s nowhere near as good as the decision to select Roethlisberger with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 draft, giving the Steelers a franchise quarterback who has allowed them to be competitive each and every year.

Meanwhile, Miller names the decision to draft strong safety Terrell Edmunds No. 28 overall in 2018 as Colbert’s worst decision. While Edmunds has been underwhelming in terms of what you’re expecting from a first-round pick, he’s by no means a bust. In fact, he has started 43 of a possible 48 games since he was drafted, and your typical analyst regards him as an average NFL starter.

Certainly, many other draft day decisions involving premium draft picks have turned out far worse for Colbert & Co.

For my money, the worst draft pick of the Colbert era was 2015 second-rounder Senquez Golson, considering that Golson—a diminutive cornerback from Ole Miss—never played a down for the team, even during the preseason.

Ironically, it was another cornerback from Mississippi (Mike Hilton), who would go on to fill the slot corner role the Steelers were hoping to fill with Golson. You may recall that Hilton signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He became a regular in 2017 and remained the team’s slot corner through the end of last season, after which he signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency.

The Best of the Rest?

Rounding out the Top 5 from Miller’s list are: Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts) at No. 2, followed by Brandon Beane/Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills), Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints) and Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

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