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Steelers Spin: Pittsburgh’s 5th Round Picks – A Historical Perspective

With their safety safely in hand, and with a replacement part for Martavis Bryant and one of the top quarterbacks in the draft already wearing black and gold, the Pittsburgh Steelers were poised to sit out the fourth round selection without too much FOMO (fear of missing out).

That was especially true since they also already acquired in the third round a 6’6”, 320 pound hunk of clay in Chukwuma Okorafor for coach Mike Munchak to mold into future left tackle greatness.

So with two solid picks for the now, and two future prospects for the later, the Steelers draft was shaping up nicely.

And then things got interesting.

In the fifth round, they decided that safety comes in numbers, and chose Marcus Allen of Penn State.

If Steelers Nation has been pining for a little snap, crackle and pop in the secondary, Allen is their perfect bowl of cereal.

For years, coach Mike Tomlin has been re-engineering his defense to a super-flex, multifaceted defense, and if ever there was a year to fulfill his dream, this will be it as the team is loaded now with a secondary full of players who could be linebacker-lights.

Is Tomlin’s vision a winner? So far, the tree has bore little fruit, but Allen could be just the player to help start reaping a true harvest.

Pittsburgh decided to infuse this hybrid theme into the offense as well when with their second fifth round pick they chose Jaylen Samuels, a running back out of North Carolina State.

It’s hard not to get excited about Samuels when you watch his film and see he will be a handful for the defense whether he’s carrying the rock or chasing down a pass.

The bad news for the Steelers is according to Le’Veon Bell Economics 101, they’d have to compensate Samuels as a running back, receiver, full back and tight end. There goes the cap.

So what did the Steelers miss in having to sit out the fourth round? Here are General Manager Kevin Colbert’s greatest selections in the fourth since arriving at Pittsburgh:

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

 Brick fingers or not, the Steelers sure could use a player like Ike Taylor now and they could certainly benefit from bringing on a Willie Colon-type to be the heir to Ramon Foster’s guard position.

But, we shouldn’t tarry with hypotheticals, so let’s compare the 2018 fifth rounders with the best of those in the Colbert era:

 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)

HISTORY SAYS: Outside of these names, the fifth round has been mostly Deep Space Nine for football careers here in Pittsburgh. Colbert’s picks at this point include the likes of Nathaniel Adibi, Rian Wallace, Omar Jacobs, Charles Davis and Cameron Stephenson, and those were just the consecutive years from 2004-2007. To his defense, the hit rate in the fifth round is quite low for the Steelers overall as players like Mike Webster and Barry Foster are rarified finds this deep in the selection process.

THE SPIN: It was painful to have to sit out the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft, but after watching from the sideline with a “put me in coach” expression, Colbert and Tomlin came back swinging hard in Allen and Samuels. If one or both of them have a reasonably positive impact on the team, and the top of the draft performs well, this could end up being one of the most consistently strong incoming classes in a while.

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