Soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian knows talent when he sees it. As a six-time NFL executive of the year, Polian has made many great draft picks that led to success on the field. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t recognize when he passed on talent in a draft.
In an exclusive Thursday NFL media conference call, I asked Polian which player he regretted not drafting the most and his response will definitely please Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
“The greatest player that we did not draft was Rod Woodson without question,” said Polian, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
Polian, however, had good reasons to pass on the former Steelers great.
“We already had a really good safety and good corners and we needed a linebacker so we took Shane Conlan,” he said.
Polian went on to say that he didn’t regret many draft picks during his long career as an NFL executive and was always pretty happy with his selections, which isn’t a surprise.
As for Woodson, I think I speak for all Steelers fans in saying we have to thank Bill for not scooping the Purdue product up, as he selected Shane Conlan out of Penn State just two picks before Rod Woodson was picked by Pittsburgh.
Woodson, a six-time First-Team All-Pro, ended up arguably being one of the best defensive players in Steelers history, being selected to 11 Pro Bowls and earning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1993, as well as being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Despite Woodson’s accolades, Polian has no regrets.
“I don’t regret (drafting Shane Conlan) that at all, but Rod (Woodson) was obviously the greatest player that we didn’t draft.”
I’m sure Polian was happy with the selection of Conlan, as he became a piece in a dominant early 90’s Buffalo Bills team that went to four straight Super Bowls.
In the end, both Polian and the Steelers organization got what they wanted, and it’s a rare case in the NFL where a win-win situation took place.