Barring the Pittsburgh Steelers trading out of the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft Thursday night, it will mark the 51st year in a row that the team has made at least one selection in the first-round. While that long streak is very unlikely to come to an end Thursday night, we could potentially see another less-notable Steelers draft streak, or two, come to an end depending on their ultimate selections.
No Alabama player drafted since 1998 – While the list of colleges that the Steelers haven’t selected from in the history of the draft is quite extensive, the fact that they haven’t drafted a player out of Alabama since 1998 is quite a notable streak when you consider all of the talented players that college has produced for decades. This year, Alabama has a few top-rated draft hopefuls who have been linked to possibly being the Steelers first-round selection in linebacker Rashaan Evans and safety Ronnie Harrison, as well as a few later-round prospects in defensive tackle Joshua Frazier and linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, just to name a few. If you’re scoring at home, former Steelers defensive back Deshea Townsend was the last player drafted by Pittsburgh and that was way back in 1998. Also, Butch Avinger was the last Alabama player to be drafted by the Steelers in the first-round of a draft and that transpired way back in 1951.
Non Power Five Conference player in first-round – You have to go all the way back to the Steelers selection of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 to find the last time the organization has drafted a player from a non Power Five Conference college in the first round. That’s quite a streak for sure but if there’s one particular player that might just put an end to it this year, it’s probably likely to be former Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
No pro day attendance by Colbert for first-round player – It’s been really easy to track the annual pro day tour of Steelers general manger Kevin Colbert ever since the internet was invented and especially since Twitter arrived on the scene. As far as that related research goes, I’m pretty sure that you have to go all the way back to the Steelers selection of defensive lineman Ziggy Hood out of Missouri in 2009 to find the last time the Steelers selected a player in the first-round that Colbert was not in attendance at that particular players’ pro day. Notable players this year that have been linked as possibly being the Steelers first-round selection that failed to have their pro days attended by Colbert include Vander Esch and former Stanford safety Justin Reid. It is worth noting, however, that both Vander Esch and Reid were ultimately brought in for pre-draft visits during the month of April.
No safety drafted in first-round since 2003 – The Steelers don’t have much of history of drafting safeties in the first-round. With that said, they did strike gold the last time they did that in 2003 with the selection of Troy Polamalu out of USC and even traded up to do so. This year, the aforementioned Harrison and Reid, along with Wake Forest product Jessie Bates, are the three former college safeties who many believe could wind up being the Steelers first-round selection in 2018.
Steelers draft streaks are just that and we saw one long one of theirs end in 2016 when they selected cornerback Artie Burns in the first-round out of Miami. Prior to Burns being selected, you had to go all the way back to 1997 to find the last time the Steelers drafted a cornerback in the first-round and that player was Chad Scott out of Maryland.