PITTSBURGH -- In little less than a month, general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin will lead their eight draft together at the helm of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I will take a look at the team's previous seven drafts under the two starting with 2007, which took place just roughly three months after Tomlin became the franchise's third head coach since 1969.
Here is a review of Colbert and Tomlin's first draft:
Total picks: 8
Picks still with the team: 3
Best pick: LB Lawrence Timmons: The Steelers raised some questions when they used the 15th overall pick on a 20-year-old who had only played extensively for one season at Florida State. But Timmons has emerged as arguably the Steelers' best defensive player and is certainly their most dependable one. Timmons has started 53 consecutive regular-season games at inside linebacker, and the seventh-year veteran has led the Steelers in tackles each of the last two seasons. Timmons is athletic enough to cover the pass as well as rush the quarterback, and he has emerged as a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Second-rounder LaMarr Woodley would have gotten the nod here had injuries not derailed his final three seasons in Pittsburgh and led the Steelers to release him last month.
Worst pick: P Daniel Sepulveda: This has as much to do with where the Steelers drafted Sepulveda as much as with his not working out because he couldn't stay healthy. The Steelers traded up in the fourth round to take the punter with the bionic leg and the linebacker sensibilities. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Sepulveda sustained a pair of torn ACLs and the Steelers parted ways with him after five seasons. They are still looking for a dependable punter despite spending what amounted to fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2007 on one.
Best value pick: CB William Gay. The seventh-year veteran has been a frequent target of fan criticism but he has been unsung in two stints in Pittsburgh. Gay has been largely solid, whether as a starter or a nickel back, though unspectacular, and the Steelers couldn't have asked for much more from a player who was their second fifth-round pick in 2007. Guard Cameron Stephenson, taken by the Steelers 14 picks ahead of Gay, never played a down in Pittsburgh and is currently in the Arena Football League.
Also of note: Timmons is the only pick from the class who has played his entire career in Pittsburgh and is still on the team. Tight end Matt Spaeth and Gay each signed elsewhere following the 2011 season. The Steelers brought both back a season apart. ... Woodley's 57 sacks are seventh on the Steelers' all-time list. ... The Steelers' second fourth-round pick, defensive end Ryan McBean, never played for Pittsburgh but started 21 games for Denver from 2009-11.
Final analysis/grade: The Steelers hit on their first two picks with Timmons and Woodley but didn't do much in the rest of the draft. Spaeth has been a good blocking tight end but has never developed into much of a pass-catching threat. The Steelers missed on their two fourth-round picks and Gay is the only contributor they found later in the draft. This wasn't one of the Steelers' better drafts but it wasn't a disaster either. I give the team a "C" for this effort.