A 10-Year History Of Compensatory Draft Picks Under Mike Tomlin

We have tried to warn you since August or so that the Pittsburgh Steelers were not likely to receive a compensatory draft pick this year. Their trade acquisition of J.J. Wilcox {thus inheriting his formula impact), and Jarvis Jones’ failure due to injury to make the Arizona Cardinals’ roster, plus Markus Wheaton’s lack of playing time, all individually assured that would not happen. And it didn’t.

While the Steelers did lose Jones, Wheaton, and Lawrence Timmons in free agency, those losses were offset by the additions of Tyson Alualu, Wilcox, and Coty Sensabaugh. At least Alualu’s impact made that worth their while.

Still, while the Steelers are not a team that makes much of a fuss about the compensatory pick formula, nor goes out of their way to maximize their earnings, such as prioritizing signing street free agents, they have had their share of the picks over the years, so I thought we might revisit their recent history in this regard, going over the past 10 seasons, which accounts for Mike Tomlin’s influence over it.

The Steelers actually earned themselves a third-round compensatory draft pick for 2017. They used that pick on running back James Conner. During his rookie season, he was only given a few dozen carries, but was relatively successful running the ball. He is returning from a torn MCL and should play a bit bigger role in 2018.

In 2016, they had one compensatory pick in the sixth round. They used that pick to sign outside linebacker Travis Feeney. The undersized Washington product was injured in training camp but made it onto the practice squad. He was eventually signed by the Saints. Anthony Chickillo was another sixth-round compensatory pick in 2015 at the same position, but he is still around, a mainstay on special teams and has become a spot starter.

The 2014 draft class featured three compensatory picks, one in the third round, one in the fifth, and another in the sixth. They did not use these particularly wisely. The third-round pick was used on Dri Archer, who was waived in his second season. He had blazing speed but couldn’t use it effectively. Offensive lineman Wesley Johnson was their ninth on the depth chart and was claimed midseason when they tried to move him to the practice squad. Daniel McCullers has been nothing more than a depth player for the past four seasons, yet was a far better investment than Archer or Johnson in the long run.

Vince Williams was yet another sixth-round compensatory pick at the linebacker position, though inside. He spent years as a spot starter and special teams ace before moving into the starting lineup last year.

They had three seventh-round compensatory picks in 2012, used on tight end David Paulson, cornerback Terrence Frederick, and tackle Kelvin Beachum. Beachum developed into a starter and signed elsewhere. Paulson lasted two seasons, even starting early in 2013 while Heath Miller was injured. Frederick kicked around a few teams for a few years and is now in the CFL.

2010 yielded three compensatory picks, two in the fifth and one in the seventh. The seventh was defensive end Doug Worthington, who did not make the team. The fifth-rounders were Crezdon Butler and Stevenson Sylvester. Butler lasted for one year at cornerback and then kicked around a bit on other teams. Sylvester lasted four years, playing mostly inside at linebacker but also some outside, and was a special teamer.

Fullback Frank Summers was a 2009 fifth-round compensatory pick. He was injured in his rookie season and never returned, but stayed around, most recently with the Bills in 2014. They had no compensatory picks in 2008, the first draft which Mike Tomlin was a decision-maker affecting the formula.

Below is a chart cataloging all of the compensatory picks over the past 10 seasons, made sortable for convenience.

Year Player Round
2009 RB Frank Summers 5th
2010 CB Crezdon Butler 5th
2010 LB Stevenson Sylvester 5th
2010 DE Doug Worthington 7th
2012 TE David Paulson 7th
2012 CB Terrence Frederick 7th
2012 OL Kelvin Beachum 7th
2013 ILB Vince Williams 6th
2014 RB/WR Dri Archer 3rd
2014 OL Wesley Johnson 5th
2014 DT Daniel McCullers 6th
2015 OLB Anthony Chickillo 6th
2016 OLB Travis Feeney 6th
2017 RB James Conner 3rd
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