When it comes to NFL history, few know the game better than Rick Gosselin. He’s one of the most recognizable names on the Hall of Fame committee after covering the sport for decades.
Monday, he put together the endeavor of ranking the best 259 draft picks of all-time. The best player ever selected first overall, second overall, and so on. A whopping 18 Steelers made the list, second-most of any team only behind the Green Bay Packers’ 20.
Joe Greene was the first to appear on the list, dubbed the best-ever fourth overall selection in league history. Gosselin included this bio blurb.
“Hall of Fame. NFL’s 100th anniversary team. All-decade. 13 Pro Bowls. 4 Super Bowl rings. 1979 NFL Man of the Year. 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. 78 career sacks.”
A cornerstone piece for Steelers, he and Chuck Noll were the building blocks to turn Pittsburgh around from lovable losers into a dynasty. Though many great players have put on the black and gold, Greene remains the best player in franchise history.
Also cracking the top 10 was Rod Woodson, selected #10 in the 1987 draft. He spent his first 10 years in Pittsburgh before signing with San Francisco for the 1997 season.
Here’s the rest of Gosselin’s list.
#22 – Ernie Stautner (1950)
#34 – Jack Ham (1971)
#44 – Dermontti Dawson (1988)
#53 – Mel Blount (1970)
#92 – Hines Ward (1998)
#102 – Johnny Unitas (1955)
#104 – Dwight White (1971)
#122 – Hardy Nickerson (1987)
#125 – Mike Webster (1974)
#150 – Greg Lloyd (1987)
#185 – Jeff Zgonina (1993)
#195 – Antonio Brown (2010)
#220 – Andy Russell (1963)
#238 – L.C. Greenwood (1969)
#242 – Brett Keisel (2002)
#248 – Kelvin Beachum (2012)
An incredibly decorated list of Steelers. Unitas and Zgonina shouldn’t really count in Pittsburgh’s favor, though. Both drafted by the team, yes, but Unitas was famously discounted by the team and released only to be found by the Colts playing semi-pro ball. Zgonina spent just two years of his 17-year career with Pittsburgh, claimed off waivers by Carolina in 1995.
Looking at the list, it’s awesome to see the talent acquired from all parts of the draft. Mel Blount in the third round, taken in the same draft as Terry Bradshaw (with WR Ron Shanklin, a good player in his own right, sandwiched in-between). Mike Webster in the fifth round, Antonio Brown in the 6th, L.C. Greenwood in the 10th (in the same year as Joe Greene).
Here’s the breakdown of those draft picks by coach:
Chuck Noll: 10
Bill Cowher: 3
Mike Tomlin: 2
Noll, predictably, laps the field.
A very cool project set forth by Gosselin, well worth your time. We’ll again link to the article here for you guys to check out.