During the 2009 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded out of the second round in order to acquire a pair of extra third-round draft picks. While not all of them ended up panning out for Pittsburgh, necessarily, they all have gone on to have successful careers—and they will be facing one of them tomorrow.
Among those three draft picks was offensive lineman Kraig Urbik. He was with the Steelers for the duration of the 2009 season, but never dressed to play. He did not make their roster in 2010, in part because they chose to retain the services of second-year undrafted free agent Ramon Foster, who was called to start as an injury replacement ahead of Urbik.
But Urbik’s career was far from over. In fact, he has gone on to dress for 100 games since leaving the Steelers, including 63 starts, and, while his NFL journey never included much more than a footnote when it comes to his time in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have remained a part of his story.
As a matter of fact, the former Wisconsin product made the first start of his career in Week 16 of the 2010 season—when the Bills, with whom he signed after being released by the Steelers, traveled to Heinz Field to play the team that drafted him. The home team narrowly edged out a 19-16 victory in that one, but it gave Urbik the taste of a starting spot.
He started the final two games of that season and then became a regular starter for the Bills over the course of the next three seasons, starting 13 games apiece in the next two seasons, and then in all 16 during the 2013 season.
Urbik’s Bills fell to the Steelers again a few years later, during that 2013 season, when the team that drafted him headed up to Buffalo and secured a 23-10 victory. While the Bills ran reasonably well, they did not run often because they spent the game trailing. Their rookie quarterback threw 39 passes, though he took only three sacks.
Following the 2015 season, the lineman changed locals in the AFC East—virtual polar opposites, trading in the frigid Buffalo weather for the Miami sun. While he did start six games this year, the Dolphins had a healthy offensive line, including Mike Pouncey at center, when the Steelers visited—and lost.
That was the first time in three games against the team that originally drafted him that Urbik’s team proved victorious. He lost to the Steelers in his first start, then again three years later. Tomorrow, he is making the first playoff start of his career, once again against his former team, and this time he is hoping his team can win the game with him in the lineup.
It’s not often at all that the Steelers give up on a draft pick that goes on to have a successful career elsewhere. Urbik is the exception to that rule, though that does not discredit their decision at the time. After all, Foster just recently made his 100th start, all in the black and gold.
Nor does he hold ill will toward the Steelers. “I wasn’t ready to play my rookie year”, he admitted recently. “It’s the nature of the business. When you’re not ready to play or if you don’t have a good camp, it’s kind of one of those things where you fall behind. That’s what I did”.