Steelers Best Draft Picks Since 1980
The Steelers have had a knack of finding gems in the later rounds of the draft. Take for instance, Antonio Brown (2010) and Greg Lloyd (1987) who were both sixth round choices. Below, you’ll find Pittsburgh’s best draft choices since their Super Bowl XIV win over the Los Angeles Rams (31-19) on January 20, 1980.
2014 Steelers’ Draft
1st – 15th pick
2nd – 46th pick
3rd – 97th pick
4th – 118th pick
5th – 157th pick
5th – 173rd pick
6th – 192nd pick
6th – 215th pick
7th – 230th pick
First Round Draft Choices
2010 (18th) – Maurkice Pouncey, C/Florida
…In his first four seasons, Pouncey has been named to the Pro Bowl three times.
2008 (23rd) – Rashard Mendenhall, RB/Illinois
…During the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Mendenhall ran for 2381 yards on 566 carries (4.2 ypc).
2007 (15th) – Lawrence Timmons, ILB/Florida State
…Timmons has not missed a start since 2010. Over the course of the past four seasons, he has finished with above 65 tackles in each year.
2006 (25th) – Santonio Holmes, WR/Ohio State
…Obviously his touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals was the play that many will remember Holmes by. Despite not making a Pro Bowl, Santonio did put together four seasons of 15-yards or more per catch which included 20 touchdown grabs.
2005 (30th) – Heath Miller, TE/Virginia
…The 2-time Pro Bowler has caught 466 passes for 5273 yards and 40 touchdowns during his 9-year career as a Steeler.
2004 (11th) – Ben Roethlisberger, QB/Miami (OH)
…The 10-year veteran has played in 3 Super Bowls, 2 Pro Bowls, and has thrown for over 34,000 yards (34105) and 219 scores.
2003 (16th) – Troy Polamalu, SS/USC
…Another one of the Steelers’ first round prizes, Polamalu has recorded 539 tackles, 32 interceptions and 12 sacks during his illustrious career in Pittsburgh.
2001 (19th) – Casey Hampton, NT/Texas
…Hampton filled the middle like a road block nicely for over a decade. Hampton started 164 games since 2001.
2000 (8th) – Plaxico Burress, WR/Michigan State
…It’s hard to believe that Plaxico never made it to a single Pro Bowl. During his first go-around in Pittsburgh, he added a new dimension to an offense which needed a big body at the wide receiver position. He caught 261 passes in his first five seasons in the NFL while accumulating 4164 yards and 22 TDs.
1998 (26th) – Alan Faneca, LG/LSU
…Seven-straight Pro Bowler with the Steelers (2001-07), Faneca started all but one game during that stretch.
1997 (24th) – Chad Scott, CB/Maryland
…The left corner picked off 5 passes in back-to-back seasons (2000-01). He returned four picks for scores between 2001 and 2003.
1995 (27th) – Mark Bruener, TE/Washington
…Bruener was a complete tight end with exceptional blocking skills and the ability to catch passes. He caught 6 TDs in 1997.
1994 (17th) – Charles Johnson, WR/Colorado
…Johnson had a 1000-yard season (1996: 1008) and a pair of 60-catch campaigns (1996 & 1998) as a Steeler.
1992 (11th) – Leon Searcy, RT/Miami (FL)
…Searcy started each game during his final seven years (3 in Pittsburgh/4 in Jacksonville).
1990 (21st) – Eric Green, TE/Liberty
…Green was voted to a pair of Pro Bowls (1993-94) as he caught 52 passes for the Steelers for 24 TDs in his five-year career.
1987 (10th) – Rod Woodson, CB/Purdue
…Woodson snagged 38 interceptions, recovered 21 fumbles and notched 644 tackles in his 10-years with the Steelers.
1984 (23rd) – Louis Lipps, WR/Southern Mississippi
…Lipps was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons (1984 & 1985). He closed out his career with catching 50-plus passes in five of his eight seasons in Pittsburgh.
1981 (17th) – Keith Gary, DE/Oklahoma
…During his first five seasons as a Steeler, Gary sacked opposing quarterbacks 25 times.
1980 (28th) – Mark Malone, QB/Arizona State
…Malone began his career as the quarterback of the future, after a three interception game against Miami in the 1984 AFC Championship game, it was becoming more and more apparent that the team may need to take a look at other options. Malone started just 46 games in 7 seasons, completing 50.9% of his passes which included 60 TDs and 81 interceptions.
Second Round Draft Choices
2007 (46th) – LaMarr Woodley, OLB/Michigan
…Woodley posted three consecutive 10-plus sack seasons (2008-10). As a Steeler, he had started 81 games, sacked 57 quarterbacks, had three turnovers returned for a score (1 INT, 2 fumbles) and recorded 5 interceptions.
2002 (62nd) – Antwaan Randle El, WR/Indiana
…The former college quarterback returned 5 kicks for a score (4 punts/1 kickoff) as well as posting a 12.3 yard per catch and a 5.8 yard per carry average in Pittsburgh. When he threw the ball, he was almost perfect as he completed 16 of 18 for 4 scores.
2001 (39th) – Kendrell Bell, ILB/Georgia
…Bell’s career was cut short due to injuries; however, during his time in Pittsburgh he was one of the best at getting to ball carriers and causing havoc. Kendrell started 44 games during his first three seasons tallying 187 tackles and 18 sacks.
2000 (38th) – Marvel Smith, LT/Arizona State
…Smith started 108 games from his tackle spot over a 9-year span which included a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2004.
1995 (60th) – Kordell Stewart, QB/Colorado
…Slash completed 56.5% of his passes for 70 TDs and 13,328 yards. Stewart was effective in the ground game as he picked up an additional 2874 yards (5.2 ypc) and 35 scores. During his first two years, he caught 31 balls for 528 stripes (4 TDs).
1993 (44th) – Chad Brown, OLB/Colorado
…Brown was a force during his first stint with the Steelers (1993-96) as he earned a Pro Bowl invite in 1996. He posted an 8 ½ sack/90 tackle season in 1994. He then followed that up with a 13 sack/2 INT campaign in 1996.
1992 (38th) – Levon Kirkland, ILB/Clemson
…As a Steeler, Kirkland was voted to the Pro Bowl twice (1996-97) while he stopped 639 ball carriers, sacked opposing signal callers’ 18 ½ times and intercepted 11 balls.
1989 (34th) – Carnell Lake, SS/UCLA
…The former Bruin was named to four straight Pro Bowls (1994-97) and intercepted 16 passes and recorded 677 tackles during his 10-year career in Pittsburgh (1989-1998).
1988 (44th) – Dermontti Dawson, C/Kentucky
…Dawson is a Hall of Famer who was voted to seven straight Pro Bowls between 1992 to 1998.
1986 (36th) – Gerald Williams, NT/Auburn
…Williams was a mainstay along the defensive front from 1988 to 1994. During his 9-years in Pittsburgh, Williams compiled 24 ½ sacks as well as 321 tackles.
Third Round Draft Choices
2009 (84th) – Mike Wallace, WR/Ole Miss
…Wallace caught 60, 72, and 64 passes during his final three seasons (2010-12) as a Steeler. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011 after his second straight 1,000-yard campaign.
2004 (75th) – Max Starks, LT/Florida
…Starks started 96 of 123 games between 2004-12.
1999 (73rd) – Joey Porter, OLB/Colorado State
…Intensity is what Porter will be best remembered by. He finished his playing career in Pittsburgh in 2006. He left behind 3 Pro Bowl appearances, 60 quarterback sacks, 327 tackles and 10 interceptions.
1998 (92nd) – Hines Ward, WR/Georgia
…Ward compiled 1,000 receptions, 12,083 yards (12.1 ypr), and 86 TDs from the time he broken into the league in 1998 until his final season in Pittsburgh in 2011.
1994 (88th) – Jason Gildon, OLB/Oklahoma State
…Number 92 started each game from 1997 to 2003. He accumulated 11-sacks or better seasons three times (1998, 2000, 2001) and three Pro Bowl appearances (2000-02) while forcing 15 fumbles and recovering three for TDs.
1994 (91st) – Byron Morris, RB/Texas Tech
…Bam only played two seasons and started a total of 10 games with the Steelers but he did compile 16 touchdowns on the ground and 1395 yards.
1993 (76th) – Andre Hastings, WR/Georgia
…In 1996, Hastings caught 72 passes for 739 yards and 6 TDs.
1992 (67th) – Joel Steed, NT/Colorado
…Steed stuffed the run for the Steelers throughout his 8-year career. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1997.
1991 (73rd) – Ernie Mills, WR/Florida
…Mills caught 8 passes in Super Bowl XXX against Dallas. Number 89 scored a total of 16 touchdowns in his 6-years in Pittsburgh.
1990 (70th) – Neil O’Donnell, QB/Maryland
…O’Donnell led the Steelers to 7 post-season games including Super Bowl XXX. Number 14 threw for 12,867 yards and 68 TDs for the black and gold.
1986 (67th) – Bubby Brister, QB/Louisiana-Monroe
…Brister started in 57 of 61 games with the Steelers between 1986-1992. He threw for 10,104 yards while completing 52.5% of his passes.
1982 (70th) – Mike Merriweather, OLB/Pacific
…Merriweather made three straight Pro Bowls (1984-86) as a member of the Steelers. He started each game between 1983 and 1987. He recorded 15 sacks during the 1984 season.
Fourth Round Draft Choices
2006 (131st) – Willie Colon, RT/Hofstra
…Colon started each game from 2007 to 2009 at right tackle protecting Ben Roethlisberger.
2003 (125th) – Ike Taylor, CB/Louisiana-Lafayette
…Number 24 has played both left and right corner. Taylor has been a consistent ball hawk intercepting 14 passes and compiling 501 tackles during his 11-year career.
2002 (128th) – Larry Foote, ILB/Michigan
…Foote started each game during a five-year stretch in Pittsburgh (2004-08) racking up 14.5 sacks and 270 tackles during that time.
1999 (109th) – Aaron Smith, DE/Northern Colorado
…Number 91 was a mainstay along the left side of the line for 9 years (2000-08). During that time, he registered 8 sacks twice (2001 & 2004) and recovered 9 fumbles.
1998 (117th) – Deshea Townsend, CB/Alabama
…Townsend went from being a key reserve in the defensive backfield (1998-2003) to being a key starter at right corner (2004-07). Townsend intercepted 21 passes during his stay in Pittsburgh.
1996 (126th) – Earl Holmes, ILB/Florida A&M
…Holmes started each game he played in from 1997 to 2001. During his final three seasons in Pittsburgh, he recorded 85-tackles in each of those seasons (1999-2001).
1993 (108th) – Kevin Henry, DE/Mississippi State
…During his final three seasons in Pittsburgh (1997-2000), Henry started 60 games and had 9 ½ sacks.
1987 (94th) – Thomas Everett, FS/Baylor
…Everett recorded 3 or more interceptions in each of his five seasons with the Steelers (1987-91).
1986 (111th) – Terry Long, RG/East Carolina
…Long started each game in 1986 and in 1990 at right guard.
Fifth Round Draft Choices
2000 (137th) – Clark Haggans, OLB/Colorado State
…Haggans recorded 25 sacks between 2004-2007.
1995 (151st) – Lethon Flowers, SS/Georgia Tech
…Flowers backed up his talk by becoming a major contributor in the secondary in his fourth season in the black and gold. Lee compiled 303 tackles, 12 sacks, 4 interceptions and 75 starts in his final five seasons.
1990 (128th) – Barry Foster, RB/Arkansas
…Foster will be remembered for his 1992 campaign where he rushed for 1,690 yards on 390 carries (11 TDs).
1987 (122nd) – Hardy Nickerson, ILB/California
…Nickerson registered 90-tackles in three separate seasons before landing in Tampa in 1993.
Sixth Round Draft Choices
2010 (195th) – Antonio Brown, WR/Central Michigan
…Brown caught 110 passes for 1499 yards last year while being named to his second Pro Bowl in four years.
1993 (162nd) – Willie Williams, CB/Western Carolina
…Williams was an important cog of the Steelers’ Super Bowl run. He intercepted 7 passes in 1995.
1987 (150th) – Greg Lloyd, OLB/Fort Valley State
…Lloyd was a menace to opposing offensive coordinators. Number 95 posted 53 ½ sacks, 659 tackles and 10 interceptions between 1988-97.
1981 (156th) – Bryan Hinkle, OLB/Oregon
…Hinkle played all of his 12 year-NFL career in Pittsburgh. He was able to start 116 games, intercepted 15 errant passes and recovered 11 fumbles.
1980 (138th) – Craig Wolfley, LG/Syracuse
…Wolfley started 102 games over his 10 year career in Pittsburgh.
Seventh Round Draft Choices
2002 (242nd) – Brett Keisel, DE/BYU
…Keisel was named to his lone-Pro Bowl in 2010. Throughout his career, Number 99 has been involved in 247 tackles, 9 fumble recoveries, and 29 quarterback takedowns.
1989 (174th) – D.J. Johnson, CB/Kentucky
…Johnson missed just two starts in four years (1990-93) while tallying 11 interceptions in that span.
1982 (172nd) – Edmund Nelson, DE/Auburn
…The former Tiger and long time analyst for Steeler football games, had two seasons of 5 plus sacks (1984 & 1986). He started every game at right end in 1986.
1981 (183rd) – David Little, ILB/Florida
…Like Hinkle, Little came into the league in 1981 and played all 12 years with the Steelers. Little started 125 games, recovering 11 fumbles and intercepting 10 passes.
1980 (165th) – Tunch Ilkin, RT/Indiana State
…Tunch was voted to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1988 and in 1989 for his play at right tackle.