Steelers’ G.M. Kevin Colbert and his scouts have proved time and again that they are some of the best in the N.F.L. when it has come to building their team through the Draft. From 2000-present, Colbert has been at the helm of some of the best Drafts in recent team history, while at the same time building/maintaining one of the N.F.L.’s model franchises over that span. Nevertheless, there is one underrated and sometimes overlooked Draft Class in particular which I feel that Colbert and the rest of the Front Office need to be especially lauded for putting together: 2002.
So in the spirit of celebrating the 10th anniversary of this specific class, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at what I believe the Steelers most underrated/under-appreciated draft of the Colbert era:
As we all remember, the Steelers had enjoyed a magical run during the 2001 season. Their late 1990’s Draft selections began to come into their own (Hines Ward, Alan Faneca, Aaron Smith, Joey Porter, Marvel Smith, etc.) and QB Kordell Stewart enjoyed a Renaissance type of season as Pittsburgh finished 13-3 and won the A.F.C. Central.
Unfortunately, the Steelers were bested at home in the A.F.C. Championship Game by the Patriots (and their video equipment, I only jest). In the aftermath of the meltdown, Pittsburgh was forced to stew upon their litany of self-inflicted wounds from that game, and went back to the proverbial “drawing board” for 2002.
The table had been set for Pittsburgh to succeed over the next few seasons, there was no doubt about it. Yet if Pittsburgh wanted to become major players in the uber-competitive A.F.C. over the upcoming decade, they would need to keep building through the Draft and savvy Front Office moves. Thankfully for the Steelers, they had themselves a deep “top-to-bottom” Draft in 2002, where they selected 5 eventual starters and picked up another one via Free Agency. So without further ado, here’s the list of the best of the best from said Draft Class: