It was three years ago on Steelers Depot when the Spin spun the Pittsburgh Steelers greatest draft picks of the Super Bowl era in a compelling, must-see Internet, series of articles.
So groundbreaking was that momentous, just shy of Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic foray, that the Steelers brass have since used that countdown coverage to shape their pre-draft strategy. (Or they used it to paper their Official Steelers hamster cage…we haven’t got clear confirmation.)
And why wouldn’t they as they decide on their 2017 first round pick? What better way to forecast the future than to study the past?
Which now, with three draft classes gone by, we wanted to recalculate the calculations, re-shake the Magic Eight Ball and see what movement there may have been in the greatest draft pick charts.
Will RB Le’Veon Bell be regarded as a Top Ten number two pick? Or…even…one of the best ever?
And now, with WR Antonio Brown regarded by many as the NFL’s premium receiver, how will this impact his ranking on the Steelers draft selection charts?
General Manager Kevin Colbert. Coach Mike Tomlin. Stay tuned to discover how your recent picks fare against the past four decades of Black and Gold excellence.
The answer lies at a signpost just ahead…because we’ll be counting down from the ninth round (yes…they used to have those) each day up until the first round.
So gentlemen and ladies…report to battle stations…and prepare to lambast these choices with your scathing comments below. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and although the Spin is the judge, you are the jury.
Many of these selections will only make sense to some of our more seasoned fans…those of us who were hanging posters of Terry Bradshaw, Jack Lambert and Lynn Swann on our walls during our youth and who have been developing ulcers and vocal cord nodules as a result of our devotion to the team over the course of several decades.
And for you REALLY old people (anyone one day older than me qualifies), be reminded that these selections are from the Super Bowl era. So please don’t complain that your leather-helmeted hero was left off the list.
Also…undrafted free agents aren’t included. They had to be drafted…to be an all-time draft pick. Makes sense?
So…let’s travel back through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. And since the modern NFL draft has only seven rounds, there are no changes to the top picks in this chart.
Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Picks | Ninth Round +
|1||L.C. Greenwood (Rd. 10)||DE||1969||Ark Pine-Bluff|
|2||Mike Wagner (Rd. 11)||DB||1971||West, Illinois|
|3||John Jackson (Rd. 10)||T||1988||East Kentucky|
|4||Merril Hoge (Rd. 10)||RB||1987||Idaho State|
|5||Justin Strzelczyk (Rd. 11)||T||1990||Maine|
L.C. Greenwood was selected nine rounds below Mean Joe Greene in the historic 1969 draft that began the seismic shift converting the Pittsburgh Steelers from perennial losers to arguably the greatest football dynasty of all time. Greenwood emerged as one of the central characters of the original Steel Curtain. A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, many cite Greenwood as the most egregious oversight by the Hall of Fame selection committees. Though being a Hall finalist six times his chances of one day getting enshrined may be fading. But for those who were blessed to see his trademark gold shoes chasing after hapless quarterbacks he will remain one of the most colorful personalities and talented players to don a Steelers jersey. And by being drafted in the tenth round, he is also one of the team’s best ever value picks.
When Steelers fans throw out Troy Polamalu’s name as the greatest safety in the history of the team it is with some apologies to the play of Mike Wagner. Even with names like Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake in the mix there has never been a Pittsburgh secondary the likes of the Steelers great defense of the seventies and Wagner was as big of a contributor as anyone else. Although he didn’t make Superman plays by hurtling over tall linemen in a single bound like Polamalu he was excellent at…well…doing what safeties should do. He backed up his corners, squelched big plays and dished out punishing hits in the days when receivers weren’t wrapped up in bubble wrap. He was a two-time Pro Bowler (as well as many of his teammates of the time) and ended up with 36 career interceptions during an era in the NFL when passing was just a passing thought.
Jackson was the Kelvin Beachum of his day as he was getting as little respect as Rodney Dangerfield. Despite others being drafted to take his position Jackson fought off all naysayers and established himself as the Steelers firmly entrenched left tackle. His perseverance paid off as he emerged as one of the top players at his position by the end of the decade and leveraged it into a big free agent’s contract with San Diego at the tail end of his career.
Truth be told, Merril Hoge doesn’t make this list alone through his on-field performance as his burst into Steelers Nation lore was cut short by concussion concerns. Yet, the fans’ favorite “factor back” gets some extra points for…well being such a Black and Gold homer on national television as an ESPN broadcaster…and somehow keeping his job! Well played Hogey. Semper Fi.
Besides having the greatest Steelers Scrabble name of all time Justin Strzelczyk was also one of the best utility players to wear a Pittsburgh uniform. Strzelczyk, who looked as if he stepped off a Harley Davidson was more Duck Dynasty than Hollywood and didn’t mind rolling in the mud by playing almost all positions on the offensive line. He never complained when he was shuffled more than a three card monte game and was loved by players, fans and coaches. Probably one of the best Sixth Man the Steelers have had, he was a steal at the eleventh round.
Just Missed the Cut:
Mike Mayock (1981 -10th) Not much of a player at the pro level…but one heck of an analyst after his NFL career ended!
Frank Pollard (1980 – 11th) A true bowling ball of a player who was knocking them down long before The Bus came to town. Never spectacular, but a steady contributor during the Dark Ages for Steelers fans (the 1980’s).
Jerry Olsavsky (1989 – 10th) A true fan favorite and current Steelers coach, he was the team’s “Rudy” playing a major role in special teams and filling in admirably whenever the great starting linebackers of the 1990’s would need a spell. A devastating injury hurt his chances of becoming an established starter.