NFL Draft

Steelers Spin: Greatest Draft Hits Of The New Millennium

Since 2000, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been as good at drafting new talent as any other team in the National Football League.

It’s no coincidence, this is also when General Manager Kevin Colbert joined the team and since then he has directed mostly successful drafts to the cheers of Steelers Nation.

The past is no predictor of the future…unless, of course, you are the Spin and have decades of experience reading Black and Gold tea leaves.

You’ll learn a lot about the quality of players to expect in each round of this year’s Steelers draft by looking at the greatest hits of the New Millennium.

Even more fun, you’ll also have great fodder for shouting matches in the comments section. This is a veritable feast for high-brow Steelers intellectuals and Terrible Trolls alike. Grab some marshmallows, let’s fire this up and let the roasting begin.

Here’s what the Spin says. What say you?

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | First Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Ben Roethlisberger QB 2004 Miami (OH)
2 Troy Polamalu DB 2003 USC
3 Heath Miller TE 2005 Virginia
4 Casey Hampton NT 2001 Texas
5 David DeCastro G 2012 Stanford

NEXT UP: Maurkice Pouncey (2010) Cameron Heyward (2011) Ryan Shazier (2014) Lawrence Timmons (2007) T.J. Watt (2017)

NOTES: Casey or Heath? Well…it’s HEEAAATTTHHHH…because he’s both great talent and great teammate…and he passed his physical each summer. Sorry Big Snack. Ryan Shazier is the biggest defensive impact player drafted in a long time for the Steelers. Here’s hoping and praying he’ll get back on the field in 2019 and continue his surge up the ranks. DeCastro, Pouncey or Heyward? It’s coin flip time. I went with DeCastro because he’s leading the argument of being the best at his position. It’s way too early to know Watt’s full potential but he’s certainly more than a blip on the radar.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Second Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Le’Veon Bell RB 2013 Michigan State
2 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 2017 USC
3 Marvel Smith T 2000 Arizona State
4 Marcus Gilbert T 2011 Florida
5 LaMarr Woodley DE 2007 Michigan

NEXT UP: Jason Worilds (2010) Stephon Tuitt (2014) Antwaan Randle El (2002) Kendrell Bell (2001)

NOTES: Le’Veon has a strong chance of becoming the greatest Steelers running back of all time. Or he could continue to pursue trying to get the greatest contract of all time…in another uniform. Smith-Schuster has the talent to be top of this list, and certainly has the winning personality.

Both Smith and Gilbert were late bloomers who rose to the top of their positions. I can hear the boos and hisses with Woodley’s inclusion, but have they replaced him since he left? Not despite throwing first rounders at the position like wildly tossed darts while blindfolded. Woodley doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a community contributor as well. Worilds is the great “what if?” and Tuitt needs to show this season he’s ready to reach the next level. Randle El? Pure joy every time he stepped on the field. Kendrell Bell’s candle burned brightly early on, but injuries shortened what could have been an amazing career.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Third Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Mike Wallace WR 2009 Mississippi
2 Emmanuel Sanders WR 2010 SMU
3 Max Starks T 2004 Florida
4 Keenan Lewis DB 2009 Oregon State
5 Chris Hope DB 2002 Florida State

NEXT UP: Javon Hargrave(2016) Matt Spaeth(2007)

NOTES: The Gravedigger’s large legion of fans will be disappointed he didn’t make the top five, but the nose tackle position has been diminished in the defense and he’s struggled to hold the point at times. He is young and has room to grow. Big Max was a great big huge man, who played his best in the later years of his career. Should Sanders be at number one? Probably. But what else can I do with that dusty Wallace jersey hanging in my closet? Wallace is Exhibit A of why players (uh…umm are you listening Le’Veon?) should never leave the Steelers. He was by far the most explosive player on the Steelers, until he went fishing for money down South and turned journeyman.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Fourth Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Ike Taylor DB 2003 La-Lafayette
2 Willie Colon G 2006 Hofstra
3 Martavis Bryant WR 2014 Clemson
4 Daniel Sepulveda P 2007 Baylor
5 Larry Foote LB 2002 Michigan

NOTES: Oh! If only he could catch! Ike Taylor came onto the Steelers as a tape measure pick, having reportedly run a 4.2 40. He looked all that fast as the team’s only shutdown corner since Rod Woodson. Colon had the injury bug but he was a powerful, gifted, and loveably nasty player. Martavis’s future remains bright. Will he rise to his full potential this season? That would be wonderfully scary. A punter? Yes…until injuring his knee, Sepulveda could change the field, and was a willing tackler on special teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Fifth Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Clark Haggans LB 2000 Colorado St.
2 William Gay DB 2007 Louisville
3 Jesse James TE 2015 Penn State
4 Brian St. Pierre QB 2003 Boston College
5 Frank Summers RB 2009 UNLV

NEXT UP: Verron Haynes(2002)

NOTES: One of the team’s best value picks ever, Clark Haggans was the edge rusher we can only dream about these days. Big Play William Gay started off rocky and received more boos than nearly any other modern player, but he persevered and proved to be one of the team’s most dependable, consistent players.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Sixth Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Antonio Brown WR 2010 Central Michigan
2 Vince Williams LB 2013 Florida State
3 Chris Kemoeatu G 2005 Utah
4 Jonathan Dwyer RB 2010 Georgia Tech
5 Anthony Chickillo LB 2015 Miami (Florida)

NEXT UP: Ryan Mundy(2008) LT Walton(2015)

NOTES: Considering he arrived in the sixth round, Antonio Brown is probably the Steelers best value pick ever. And he’s on the way to proving he’s the team’s best ever receiver, and that’s saying a lot in this franchise. After Brown, you get more lunch bucket type of guys, but still excellent value in the sixth round.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits From 2000 | Seventh Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Brett Keisel DE 2002 Brigham Young
2 Kelvin Beachum T 2012 Southern Methodist
3 David Johnson TE 2009 Arkansas State
4 Baron Batch RB 2011 Texas Tech
5 Tyler Matakevich OLB 2016 Temple

NOTES: Da Beard is one of everyone’s favorite Steelers players. A tremendous athletic talent that slipped into the seventh round. Beachum is a brilliant guy who simply works harder than most. If it wasn’t for a knee injury he probably would still be playing for the Steelers.

 What Does This Tell Us About The 2018 Draft?

This will be Colbert’s 19th draft for the Steelers, and he’s long proved to be one of the most dependable cherry pickers in the orchard. It could be argued that he instantly clicked with Bill Cowher while his songwriting partnership with Coach Mike Tomlin took a few more years before the two starting cranking out the hits.

Colbert rarely misses in the first round, and he’s come up with some real gems in rounds two and three.

Will this year be his greatest performance of all time? We’ll know soon enough as it won’t be long before we hear those mesmerizing words: The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock.

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