NFL.com names Kevin Colbert the second-best general manager in the league at drafting
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With the draft coming up less than two weeks, Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com did an exercise of ranking general managers in the league based on how they used their draft capital. For the article, Rosenthal only went back to 2015 and did not include the nine general managers who have had one draft or less.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert ranked second, just behind Colts general manager Chris Ballard. Below is Rosenthal's explanation on why he ranked Colbert second among general managers since 2015.
"Colbert never finished below third in my previous iterations of the GM Power Rankings, and the new parameters in this year's exercise doesn't change his standing. His first-round picks since 2015 include T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, as well as one used to acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick .
"Colbert's legendary run of drafting wideouts has continued apace, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in the last six years, none in the top 45 picks. Even his poor drafts, such as in 2016, usually have a gem ( Javon Hargrave ), while classes like the Steelers' 2020 group (included starters Kevin Dotson, Alex Highsmith and Claypool) are a regular occurrence. Colbert's draft record is the biggest reason why the Steelers have the third-most wins in the NFL since he became the team's GM in 2010. His place this high despite some lost drafts (2018) is also a sign there's not that much separating the best drafting teams and the middle of the pack."
It's no secret that the Steelers and Colbert are the best in the league when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers. That has always been a strength during Colbert's tenure, which started in 2000. As Rosenthal mentions, the 2016 draft was not a good one by Colbert, and he missed big time by selecting cornerback Artie Burns in the first round. Bud Dupree took a while to develop, but he turned into a solid pass rusher and got paid handsomely last month in free agency by the Titans. T.J. Watt has 49.5 sacks in four years with the Steelers and has been a Defensive Player of the Year candidate the last two seasons. He's by far Colbert's best pick since 2015. Edmunds has been a mixed bag in his three seasons. And while it's still early, Devin Bush and Chase Claypool both look to be promising players.
One area that hasn't been a strong point for Colbert in the last few years is drafting running backs. The Steelers have selected mid-to-late round running backs in each of the last four years and none of them have really showcased that they could be No. 1 running backs. For that reason, it appears the Steelers will select a running back at least in the top two rounds this year. Many mock drafts have them linked to selecting Alabama running back Najee Harris at 24th overall in the first round. Running backs Travis Etienne of Clemson and Javonte Williams of North Carolina also could be in play.