Cornerbacks & Offensive Linemen Drafted By Steelers During The Kevin Colbert Era

The NFL combine is now over and we start the countdown to the 2011 NFL draft in April. Without a doubt, cornerbacks and offensive linemen look to be a high priority for the Steelers this go around. It would not be surprising to see two of each drafted this year. Being as these two positions are perhaps the biggest need, I thought it would be fun to look back at the cornerbacks and offensive linemen drafted by the Steelers in the Kevin Colbert era that started back in 2000. Below are the 26 players that fit that description and some quick notes on each.

YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2010118Maurkice PounceyCFlorida
Based on his rookie season, Pouncey surely looks like a homerun as he started every game except for Super Bowl XLV. Initially the Steelers thought he might ease in at right guard in 2010, but after the initial looks in camp and
preseason at center, it was obvious that he should start at center as a rookie over Justin Hartwig. Hartwig was released before the season started as a result. Time will tell of course, but Pouncey looks like the Steelers starting center for many years to come.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20105151Chris ScottOTTennessee
Scott never got a chance to show what he had after breaking his foot prior to the start of training camp while working out back at the University of Tennessee. He was elevated from PUP to the active roster when starting left tackle Max Starks was placed on injured reserve, but was on the inactive list every week after that. He will look to make the roster likely as a right tackle or guard, as he was spotted working at both spots when he returned from his injury. Needless to say the jury is still out on him and the Steelers really need him to show something in 2011.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20105164Crezdon ButlerCBClemson
Butler was drafted by the Steelers as their second of three selections in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. He only was active in 4 regular season games for the Steelers and all of his game work came on special teams. He will look to make a bigger impact in 2011 as the Steelers will need him likely at the very least in the nickel role. He has the tools to play both outside corner spots and has great closing speed. He did show some flashes in the preseason and the Steelers really need to hope he works out.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2009379Kraig UrbikOGWisconsin
Urbik was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He was their first 3rd rounder after the Steelers traded out of the 2nd round with the Broncos. During his rookie season, Urbik was mostly inactive after losing the top backup guard position to undrafted rookie Ramon Foster. In both preseasons with the Steelers, Urbik looked very average and eventually was cut loose before the start of the 2010 season. He ended up getting claimed by Urbik was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills and even started for them at right guard against the Steelers in week 12. Urbik ended his season on inured reserve with the Bills after injuring his knee.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2009396Keenan LewisCBOregon State
Lewis was drafted by the Steelers in the third round (96th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He was one of three 3rd round picks the Steelers had in that draft after they traded out of the second round with the Broncos. Lewis played in just four games on special teams as a rookie before being placed on the Reserve/Injured List with a back injury. In 2010 Lewis looked as if he was making strides until the preseason game against the Broncos. Lewis was benched in the second quarter after picking up two personal foul penalties and punched and broke a sign on the way to the Steelers locker room. He pretty much stayed in the dog house all season as he dressed for just 9 games. He saw just 39 regular season defensive snaps in 2010 on defense that all came in blowout wins. He did play in the Super Bowl on defense for just 4 snaps and of course on special teams. He seems to lack focus and is easily rattled. The Steelers will give him every opportunity to rebound in 2011 and he needs to show he has what it takes as he currently looks like he could be a 3rd round bust at this point. That would make both corners drafted in 2009 wasted picks as Joe Burnett has long been released prior to the start of the 2010 season.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20095168Joe BurnettCBCentral Florida
The Steelers drafted Burnett in the 5th round (168th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He dressed for 15 games as a rookie and returned just 3 kicks on the season. On defense he played just 44 snaps mostly in the nickel role. He is perhaps best remembered for dropping an easy game clinching interception against the Raiders in week 13. The Steelers were hoping the undersized corner out of Central Florida would of developed better in the nickel role and become a strong contributor on special teams. Neither of those two things happened and Burnett was released in the final round of cuts prior to the 2010 season.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20097226A.Q. ShipleyCPenn State
Shipley played his college ball at Penn State and was drafted in the 7th round (226th overall) by the Steelers in the 2009 draft. He too was a project center and his short arms and smallish stature were a pre-draft concern. Justin Hartwig was entrenched as the starter at center that season and backed up by Doug Legursky. Shipley was released and then re-signed to the Steelers practice squad where he spent the season. He explored his options following the 2009 season and decided to sign in the offseason with the Eagles instead of the Steelers and was on their practice squad in 2010.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20084130Tony HillsOTTexas
Hills was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round (130th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft as a hopeful future left tackle. He struggled right out of the gate according to reports and was inactive for all 16 regular season games in  2008 and all three postseason games. In 2009 things did not get much better as Hills was only active for a handful of games and only saw the field on special teams. The Steelers held on to Hills in 2010, his final year of his rookie contract, and he failed to play up to the line when given the chance. In all of 2010 he played in just 2 games due to injuries during the game. His debut against the Titans in week 2 was hard to watch and he gave up a sack, a hit and a pressure in 29 snaps played in that game. He played just 14 snaps in the week 10 loss to the Patriots in mop up duty against a light pass rush. Hills rookie contract is now up and he is unlikely to be asked back. The Steelers had plenty opf patience with him, but he ended up just being a bust.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20075156Cameron StephensonOGRutgers
Stephenson was drafted in the 5th round (156 overall) in the 2007 draft after playing his college ball at Rutgers. He bounced around on both sides of the ball while in college and while not fast, was considered solid fundamentally. He was regarded as a right guard and the Steelers wanted him to do some center training as well after they drafted him. Stephenson never made it out of training camp as the Steelers released him prior to the season as he was beaten out of a roster spot by his former college teammate, Darnell Stapleton. Stapleton had been signed following the 2007 draft as an undrafted free agent. Stephenson bounced around to several teams, but never got to play.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20075170William GayCBLouisville
Gay was drafted by the Steelers in the 5th round (170th pick) of the 2007 NFL Draft. Gay contributed instantly on special teams in his rookie season. He received very limited time on the defensive side of the ball though as a rookie. He dressed for all 16 games. In 2008 he made his mark on defense mostly as a nickel back. He did start 4 games in 2008 and played pretty well in those games. He also remained a big contributor on special teams as well. Gay started 14 games at corner in 2009, but was replaced by Deshea Townsend in the final 2 games as a starter. His 2009 season was started well, but Gay went through a tough stretch from week 6 on in pass coverage. He was not all to blame though as the Steelers were without Troy Polamalu most of season and the safety play was not fantastic in his absence. 2010 saw Gay relegated mostly to the nickel role, but he did see time at left corner due to injuries. Gay had a rough stretch again against the Saints, Bengals and Patriots mid-season, but rebounded after that. He saw several snaps at left corner late in the season due to Bryant McFadden getting dinged up. He also was victimized for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV when he did not get his head around quick enough. That has pretty much been the knock on him his whole time in Pittsburgh. He still has good closing speed and is not afraid to tackle. He is currently an unrestricted free agent and he is probably 50/50 to be re-signed in the offseason. He could get some attention from other teams if there is a free agent period this Summer.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20064131Willie ColonTHofstra
Colon was a 4th round pick in 2006 out of Hofstra and was inactive for the first 14 games of his rookie season. He made his first two career starts in the final two games of the season after then right tackle Max Starks went down with an injury. Colon started all 16 games at right tackle in 2007 and played well. Colon played nearly ever snap for the Steelers at right tackle in 2008 and 2009. He was arguable the best on the line during those two seasons, but also heavily penalized. He was flagged 25 times in a 35 game span that included the 2008 playoff run. Colon missed out on 2010 free agency because of no CBA was in place entering the 2010 season. Colon was on a small list of players that were then deemed restricted free agents instead of unrestricted as was tendered a one year contract. He signed the deal but injured his Achilles prior to training camp and was lost for the entire season. He currently is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2011, but that could change once again depending how the labor talks and new CBA pans out. Just in case, the Steelers have tendered as if he would be restricted, so his future with the Steelers depends on how the labor talks go. We might not have seen the last of Colon in a Steelers uniform.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20066201Marvin PhilipCCalifornia
Philip was drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 draft to compete with Okobi for the backup center position with Chukky Okobi. Philip served two years on a Mormon church mission prior to being a two-time All-Pacific 10 Conference choice at the University of California, Berkeley. Scouts said prior to the draft that Philip was too small and needed to get stronger. He made the 2006 Steelers roster out of camp and only dressed for a handful of games. He was back in training camp in 2007, but was released prior to the start of the season and spent the first 10 weeks of 2007 season on practice squad, then was inactive for four games before being waived. Bounced around to the Browns, Saints and Bills since but never has played a down in the regular season to my knowledge.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2005262Bryant McFaddenCBFlorida State
McFadden was drafted in the 2nd round in 2005 out of FSU. He was inactive for the first four games of his rookie season and then saw action in the final 12 regular-season games and all four postseason contests. Saw time as a nickel back, reserve corner and played on special teams. He played in all 16 games in 2006 and started nine. Logged time at both corner spots and at nickel corner. McFadden played 13 games in 2007 as a reserve DB and special teams contributor. He was inactive Weeks 5-8 due to an ankle injury. In 2008 he once again was hit by the injury bug and started just 8 regular season games at left corner. His arm injury was bad enough that he sat out for 6 games. He did play well when healthy and played in all 3 playoff games including the Super Bowl against the Cardinals. McFadden was allowed to walk away via free agency as he signed a contract with the Cardinals and played with them in 2009. He returned back to the Steelers via a 2010 draft day trade. He then had his contract extended and started every game in 2010 for the Steelers. He missed several snaps in games due to hip and abdomen injuries all season long and was often the target of many quarterbacks in underneath routes. McFadden surely has his best days behind him, but has been a part of two championship teams and runner up in one Super Bowl this past season. McFadden is still under contract and will be challenged for his starting job in 2011.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2005393Trai EssexOTNorthwestern
Essex was drafted as a tackle out of Northwestern in the 3rd round (93rd pick) of the2005 draft. Many draft pundits said the Steelers might have reached with this pick and could of had him much later. Essex did not see extensive playing time until the 2006 season and that was mostly on special teams and goal-line packages. In 2007 Essex appeared in three games as a reserve tackle and special teams player. He made his first start of the season and first career playoff start in the AFC Wild Card Game at left tackle against Jacksonville. In 2008, Essex logged just 31snaps on the offensive line with most coming at right guard. He started all 16 games for the Steelers in 2009 at right guard, but really had his problems getting kicked inside. He struggled in both his run and pass blocking, but managed to play all but about 4 snaps that season. In 2010 the Steelers gave him every opportunity to hold the right guard spot after 1st round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey was moved to center. Essex struggled and missed 4 games early on due to a high ankle sprain. When he returned from injury he started the next 3 games and was then replaced as a starter by Ramon Foster, who never relinquished the job back. Essex was relegated to a reserve role and played several snaps at right tackle when Flozell Adams was dinged up. He also served as an extra tight end when the Steelers were short handed due to injury. He is currently also a free agentthis offseason and looks unlikely to return to the team that drafted him and gave him every opportunity to be the right guard for a while.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20056204Chris KemoeatuOGUtah
Kemoeatu was drafted in 2005 in the 6th round (204th pick). In his rookie season, he was inactive for 15 games and did not get any playing time. Was inactive for most of the 2006 season as well, but managed 2 starts at right guard during that season. In 2007, Kemoeatu appeared in 15 games on special teams and as a backup at guard. This where his work began on the left side. In 2008 he started all 16 regular season games at left guard and all three postseason games. That included the Super Bowl against the Cardinals. He struggled in his pass blocking early on that season, but improved as the season progressed. His run blocking was certainly his strength. He was however flagged 11 times on the season with 3 coming in the playoffs. 2 of those 3 were in the Super Bowl. In 2009 he started 10 games at left guard before suffering a knee injury. He missed the final six games of the season. Up until the knee injury, Kemoeatu had an above average season going. 2010 saw Kemoeatu really struggle at left guard. By seasons end, Kemoeatu had become perhaps the weakest link on an offensive line that was broken down and pieced back together. He was also flagged 12 times in 2010. Kemoeatu is still under contract for a few more years, so he will likely be in the black and gold at least through the 2011 season. Hopefully he can snap out of his downward spiral.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2004238Ricardo ColcloughCBTusculum College
Colclough was a second round blunder pick out of Tusculum after scouts claimed he possessed natural talent. Colclough was primarily used as a kick returner in his first two seasons and never started a game on defense. In middle of the 2006 season, Colclough was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. At that time there was a question if it was a nerve injury in his neck. In the end, Colclough was just a size and speed guy and was released in 2007 after playing in just three games that season.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2004375Max StarksOTFlorida
Starks is the son of former professional defensive lineman Ross Browner and drafted by the Steelers in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft. He did not start his rookie season but saw time in several games. He cracked the starting lineup in his second season at right tackle and has never looked back all the way to the Super Bowl. He missed two late season games in 2006 with a knee injury. He made the switch to left tackle in 2007 and backed up Marvel Smith most of the season. He only made 4 starts that year. In 2008 he made 11 starts in place of Smith and has been the starting left tackle every since. In 2010 he suffered an ankle injury early in the year and his neck later in the season. He was eventually placed on injured reserve and missed most of the season. He reportedly should be ready to come back in 2011 and is signed through 2012.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20046177Bo LacyOTArkansas
The Steelers discovered Lacy while investigating Shawn Andrews at Arkansas, but he never panned out at training camp and was released and then signed to the practice. He was claimed shortly after by the Bears, but has never played a game in the NFL after also spending time with the Browns and the Falcons.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20046197Drew CaylorCStanford
Caylor was the Steelers third sixth round pick of the 2004 Draft. Like Nkwenti he was a converted defensive lineman before moving to center his senior year of college. He also saw some time at tackle while at Stanford. The Steelers really had interest in Caylor as a long snapper, but he could not beat out Mike Schneck and was released at the end of 2004 training camp and then signed to the practice squad after he cleared waivers where he had a short stay. Really hard to include him on this list as a lineman.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20034125Ike TaylorCBLouisiana-Lafayette
Taylor is no stranger to Steeler Nation after being drafted as a nice find in round 4 of the 2003 NFL draft. His first two seasons with the Steelers and also returned kicks. Taylor led the team with 831 yards on 37 kickoff returns for a 22.5-yard average his rookie season. In 2005 he moved into the starting lineup and started 15 games and four playoff games including playing a big role in Super Bowl XL against the Seahawks. Although he has never made the Pro Bowl, Taylor has been the closest thing the Steelers have had to a lock down corner for a while. He also has helped the team by restructuring his contract along the way to help the Steelers free up cap space. Taylor also all along has contributed on special teams. The biggest knock on Taylor over the years has been his hands as he only has 11 regular season interceptions since becoming a starter in the secondary in 2005. He closes in on 31 years of age and is currently an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers have had some talks with him, but there is currently no guarantee he will be back in black in gold in 2011. Taylor is easily the best corner Colbert has drafted in his time as the Steelers football operations man.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2002130Kendall SimmonsOGAuburn
Simmons started 14 games at right guard for the Steelers in his rookie year. In all he started 80 games for the Steelers in 5 seasons, but was really just a mid-grade right guard throughout his career. Simmons missed the entire 2004 season with a knee injury, but made it back in 2005 for the championship season. He played in 14 games in 2006 and all 16 games in 2007. He suffered an Achilles injury early on in 2008 that forced him to miss the remainder of the year. He was released by Steelers that following offseason.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20027212LaVar GloverCBCincinnati
Glover was merely a blip on the Steelers roster after being drafted with the first of their two seventh-round draft picks. Brett Keisel was the second. Glover was an under-sized corner with speed, but was released after his first training camp. He was signed by the Bengals in 2002 after getting released, but only dressed for 2 games.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20014111Mathias NkwentiOTTemple
When drafted in the 4th round of the 2001 draft, Nkwenti was considered a project for then offensive line coach Russ Grimm. He had good foot work out of college where he only played one season on the offensive line after converting from defensive tackle. Mathias dressed for only one game his rookie season and was inactive for all of the 2002 regular season. It looked like he might have a shot to replace Wayne Gandy at left tackle in 2003, but he injured his back that October and it cost him his season. He only dressed for 2 games during his Steelers career.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
20015146Chukky OkobiCPurdue
Okobi was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Purdue. He was inactive for almost all of his rookie season. Throughout his career he primarily used as a backup center and special teams player. He only started 7 games during his Steelers career and was released prior to the start of the 2007 season. He ended up signing with the Arizona Cardinals when their starting center was injured. He only played a short time with Arizona and started just one game with them.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2000238Marvel SmithOTArizona State
The Steelers drafted Smith in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft after he played his college ball at Arizona State. Smith played right tackle early in his Steelers career before switching to left tackle. He started right away on the offensive line as a rookie, but did miss four games because of a knee injury. 2001 and 2002 were good seasons for Marvel. He was hampered most of the season with a pinched nerve in his neck in 2003 and he only started 6 games. Was the starting left tackle in the 2005 season that ended with a Super Bowl XL win. Started all 16 games at left tackle in 2006, but a back injury in 2007 lingered and he was eventually placed on IR in 2008, his final season with the Steelers. In all, Marvel started 108 regular season starts for the Steelers and it is safe to say he was a solid draft pick.
YearRoundOverallPlayerPOSCollege
2000377Hank PoteatCBPittsburgh
Poteat was drafted in the third round after playing locally at Pitt in 2000 and never materialized into the cornerback the Steelers thought he might become. He had only moderate success as a punt returner and never started a game in the Steelers secondary in 41 games. He was released by the Steelers just prior to the start of the 2003 season and bounced around with several teams since.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Allen from the Burgh

    Great read, thanks for sharing. Might want to clean up those tables as it is a little rough to read. I almost forgot about the Glover pick. Keep up the great work. You are my first and last stop for Steelers stuff every day. Love the podcast too.

  • Mean Gene

    Nice job Dave. Nice tidbit on Cameron and Darnell. I never knew that.