Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: Steelers On PFWA All-Rookie Teams


The Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) recently announced the NFL All-Rookie team for the 2022 season. As Alex Kozora reported, no Steelers from the 2022 draft class made the team. Brock Purdy got the nod over Kenny Pickett. Two first round draft picks selected over George Pickens.

The PFWA has selected an All-Rookie team since 1974. In 1976 the PFWA selected a second team. Like the All-Pro team only the top players at each position are selected for the entire NFL. No AFC and NFC teams like the Pro Bowl. Also, some years would have no selections for a position if no rookie played enough for consideration. Usually center.

I decided to look at all 49 PFWA All-Rookie team rosters to see how many Steelers received All-Rookie team consideration.

Art Rooney Jr., Bill Nunn, and Dick Haley Era

Art Rooney Jr. became the Steelers executive heading the personnel department after Buddy Parker gutted the team of  future draft picks. He was integral to the Steelers player evaluation process up until his brother fired him in 1986. He remains a team Vice President. The Steelers hired Bill Nunn in 1968. He was the assistant Director of Player Personnel until 1987 but remained with the team as a senior scout until 2014. Dick Haley played for the Steelers and was Steelers Director of Player Personnel from 1971 to 1989. And yes, he is Todd Haley’s father.

Year Name POS Draft/Pick Pro Bowl All Pro Honors
Art Rooney Jr 1965-1986; Dick Haley 1971-1990; Bill Nunn 1968-1987
1974 Lynn Swann WR 1/21 3 1 HoF
1974 Mike Webster C 5/125 9 5 HoF
1974 Jack Lambert LB 2/46 9 6 D-ROY/HoF
1976 Mike Kruczek QB 2/47 0 0 2nd team
1976 Bennie Cunningham TE 1/28 0 0 2nd team
1978 Ron Johnson CB 1/22 0 0
1980 Tyrone McGriff G 12/333 0 0
1982 Gary Anderson K 7/171 4 1
1984 Louis Lipps WR 1/23 2 0 O-ROY
1987 Delton Hall CB 2/38 0 0
1987 Thomas Everett S 4/94 1 0
1989 Jerry Olsavsky LB 10/258 0 0
1990 Eric Green TE 1/21 2 0


Head coach Chuck Noll heavily influenced the draft picks particularly from 1979 until his retirement.

Tom Donahoe Era

Dan Rooney promoted Tom Donahue to Director of Player personnel in 1989 but he reported to Dick Haley. Donahoe overlapped with Haley but by early 1991 he was the unofficial general manager of the Steelers. Haley led the search for a new coach when Chuck Noll resigned at the end of the 1991 season. He left after losing a power struggle with Bill Cowher in 1999. The Eagles hired him in 2012, naming him Senior Director of Player Personnel. He was an Eagles Senior advisor up to 2021.

Year Name POS Draft/Pick Pro Bowl All Pro Honors
Tom Donahoe 1991-1999
1991 Adrian Cooper TE 4/103 0 0
1992 Darren Perry S 8/203 0 0
1993 Chad Brown LB 2/44 3 2
1995 Brendan Stai G 3/91 0 0

Kevin Colbert Era

Kevin Colbert hired as Director of Football Operations in 2000 but basically the General Manager. A title he took in 2010. Colbert in charge of the drafts from 2000 to 2022 in conjunction with the head coaches and first Dan then beginning in 2003 Art Rooney II.

Year Name POS Draft/Pick Pro Bowl All Pro Honors
Kevin Colbert 2000-2022
2000 Hank Poteat PR 3/77 0 0
2001 Kendrell Bell LB 2/39 1 0 D-ROY
2002 Kendall Simmons G 1/30 0 0
2002 Antwaan Randal El PR 2/62 0 0
2004 Ben Roethlisberger QB 1/11 6 0 O-ROY
2005 Heath Miller TE 1/30 2 0
2007 Daniel Sepulveda P 4/112 0 0
2010 Maurkice Pouncey C 1/18 9 2
2017 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 2/62 1 0
2017 TJ Watt LB 1/30 5 3 D-POY
2019 Devin Bush LB 1/10 0 0
2020 Chase Claypool WR 2/49 0 0
2021 Najee Harris RB 1/24 1 0
2021 Pressley Harvin III P 7/254 0 0



The Steelers draft process evolved but has always taken a collaborative approach. No Steelers selected to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 25 of 49 seasons.

Of the 31 Steelers making PFWA All-Rookie teams, 16 on offense, 10 on defense, and  five specialists. Six linebackers, Five offensive linemen, four wide receivers, and four defensive backs. Four Steelers named offensive or defensive rookie of the year since 1974: Jack Lambert, Louis Lipps, Kendrell Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger.

Making the All-Rookie team not a guarantee of a successful NFL career. While three Steelers selected to the Football Hall of Fame, several others played a few seasons before fading into obscurity.

On to a new era. The 2023 draft will be Omar Khan’s turn at the helm. Will we see any of his selections make the 2023 PFWA All-Rookie team? Here we go.

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