FanPost

Longevity, & How The Steelers Draft.

First off, this is a warning! This post is lengthy, but since you love the Steelers, and this is all about them, then I hope you approve.

If there are three words that describe continuity, these are them! The Pittsburgh Steelers!

Chuck Noll's 23 years is largely to blame for that, and this study doesn't even include those years! Just 3 HC's in the last 43 years. That is how amazing the continuity, the consistency and the familiarity is for the players who play in Pittsburgh, let alone for the World Wide Fan Base. (My nephew Wally is one of U all, so we have fun when the Pitt plays the Donky Kongs!)

This is a first time post for me over here. I am a die hard Bronco fan, but I thought that you all may enjoy the article I wrote about your Steelers, and how the team has drafted over the past 20 years. It is part of a series of articles I am writing that began with a hard look at each player position in the NFL based upon the longevity of the players.

After analyzing the positions, and comparing the average length of the careers, it became very apparent that the NFLPA was way off on the stats that they want us to believe are real. Much more interesting than the misinformation is that, once I had compiled the data, I realized how much the round that players are selected in affects the length of their tenure.

After completing that, I began to use the data to analyse just how well, or how poorly, teams have drafted based upon this information. Do teams front offices actually pay attention to the statistics of player longevity? Do teams want to find players who will give them 10 to 15 years? Absolutely!

The NFL did a new study on longevity last year, and prior to that, I'm just not sure how much good information the different teams had, unless it was on a team by team, or coach by coach basis.

If you care to, you can take a look at the summation article I wrote that compares the stats on the different positions based upon the round in which they were drafted. That article thoroughly explains the basis for all of the information below.

For the purpose of brevity, I will only list those players from each draft class who were players of note, and provide a bit of commentary and a summary of the totals.

As you know, Kevin Colbert has been the Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations since 2000, and has been in charge of the team's draft since that time. His predecessor, Tom Donahoe, (1991-1999) held the same title, and no front office manager has held the GM title in the Pittsburgh Steelers history, until now. Kevin Colbert is the man.

The team has had a pretty good history of picking players who contribute long term, and the above two men have been a big reason for that. You cannot discount the input from the coaching staff either. Without that group getting the maximum out of the players the GM could lose his job!

The Steelers have been fortunate to have greatness in both of those areas for quite some time. Since 1994, which is where all of these studies begin, the Pittsburgh Steelers have only had two FO guys and two HC's. Talk about continuity!

First off, a quick explaination on how this longevity grading system works. This is not a grade on the drafts based upon the stellar performance of the player, although many of the players who have long careers, and exceed the league averages for longevity, are starters at their positions.

There are also many players who have long careers in predominantly a back up role. The long career is the issue here. If a team is going to spend the time & money on the pick then they should want to get some good years out of the player.

The top longevity player position changes from round to round, but it is generally held by the punter and kicker group. The only exceptions are the second, fifth and seventh rounds, which are held by the QB's (2nd), D-line (5th) and O-line (7th). Rarely are P/K's selected in the first or second rounds, (only once each during this 20 year period) and so an A 2 selection in most rounds is about as good as it gets.

Since drafts vary for the number of picks per team, we must total the numbers and then divide by the number of players selected. With this system, the lower the final # in the draft grade, the better the draft was based upon the leagues average tenures. Don't confuse that with AVGY though. The are opposites.

Okay, a lot of boring details and so we should just get on with it.

The best possible grade would be an A 1, and the worst would be a B 10. As we grade each round we can easily show if the position selected in that round was an above the AVGY pick for the round (A), or below (B). The numbers 1 - 10 will always be that 1 is the longest tenured position for that round, & 10 the players who were cut in camp & never played in the NFL.

Below is the 1st round list of positions.

(The league's average tenure per player (AVGY) during this 20 year span is 4.87 years. That is the combination of all positions & all rounds.) (AVGY in a particular round = the average # of years a player plays when drafted in that round, and the positions AVGY for each round is also given in the lists at the end or this article..)

The example of the 1st Round below is the actual NFL players AVGY for this 20 year period. (What the list shows is the Player position / # of players selected / average # of years played / draft grade)

Above AVGY
P/K.................01....12.0 years A 1
O-line..............41....7.85 years A 2
LB's................40....7.73 years A 3
QB's...............32....7.72 years A 4
RB's...............25....7.64 years A 5
DB's...............65....7.58 years A 6
D-Line............76....7.51 years A 7
Below AVGY (AVGY = 7.48)
TE's...............18....7.16 years B 8
WR's..............47....6.51 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

We'll begin with the Steelers 1994 draft year and proceed to 2012. I will include a few observations here and there that may interest you.

Cowher sure knows how to pick players. Who is the GM? Oh, you don't have one. I'll guarentee U though, Tom Donahoe was important!

1994 Steelers Draft (18 years ago) 10 players drafted.

1 Charles Johnson...WR.. 2002 09y B 9
2 Brentson Buckner..DT.. 2005 12y B 5
3 Jason Gildon.........LB... 2004 11y A 3
5 Myron Bell.............DB.. 2001 08y B
6 Jim Miller...............QB.. 2002 09y B 5

Total.................................................B 5.80
Final AVGY..............................63 years/10 players = 6.30

Look at how high the selections actually are (5.8), and to get a 6.3 AVGY is excellent. (Keep in mind that the leagues AVGY = 4.87 years) It certainly shows how just 5 selections (50%) can affect the totals. If you are an excellent talent evaluator then you can throw the book out. The problem is that it is easy to get fooled into thinking you're good.

1995 Steelers Draft (17 years ago) 10 players drafted.

1 Mark Bruener.........TE.. 2008 14y B 8
2 Kordell Stewart......QB.. 2005 11y A 1
3 Brenden Stai.........G.... 2002 08y A 2
4 Oliver Gibson........DT.. 2003 09y A 6
5 Lee Flowers..........DB.. 2002 08y B 6

Total.................................................A 5.30
Final AVGY..............................69/10 = 6.90

5.3 vs. 5.8 is an improvement, and so is the AVGY which came up to 6.9. Don't worry, it gets better.

1996 Steelers Draft (16 years ago) 9 players drafted.

4 Earl Holmes...........LB ..2005 10y A 3
6 Orpheus Roye.......DT.. 2008 13y A 4
7 Carlos Emmons.....LB.. 2006 11y A 4
Total.................................................A 4.56
Final AVGY..............................55/09 = 6.11

With an improvement to 4.56, you would think that the AVGY would be in the 7 category, but it still beat the leagues average by more than a year per player.

1997 Steelers Draft (15 years ago) 8 players drafted.

1 Chad Scott............DB.. 2006 10y A 6
3 Mike Vrabel...........LB.. 2010 14y A 3

Total.................................................A 4.25
Final AVGY..............................44/08 = 5.50

This may be the greatest under performing group of all time, and yet they still beat the NFL longevity averages!

1998 Steelers Draft (14 years ago) 10 players drafted.

1 Alan Faneca..........G 2010 13y A 2
3 Hines Ward...........WR 2011 14y B 8
4 Deshea Townsend.DB 2010 13y A 5
5 Jason Simmons.... DB 2007 10y B 6

Total.................................................A 5.70
AVGY to date..........................68/10 = 6.80 *One player still on a 2011 roster.

Look at the difference just one year makes. A 4.25 worsens to 5.7, but the AVGY jumps from 5.5 - 6.8! Someone is certainly paying attention to the player quality during this draft, but who fell asleep last year? It was a great draft last year based upon where to draft what, but the player selection wasn't really great!

1999 Steelers Draft (13 years ago) 11 players drafted.

3 Joey Porter...........LB... 2011* 13y A 3
4 Aaron Smith...........DE.. 2011* 13y A 6
5 Jerame Tuman.......TE.. 2008 10y B 9
7 Kris Brown............K......2010 12y A 2

Total.................................................A 5.00
AVGY to date..........................51/11 = 4.64 **Two players still on a 2011 roster.

It isn't over until the last player retires.

2000 Steelers Draft (12 years ago) 9 players drafted. Kevin Colbert takes over as the director of football operations.

1 Plaxico Burress..... WR... 2011 12y B 9
2 Marvel Smith......... T...... 2008 09y A 2
3 Kendrick Clancy.... DT... 2009 10y A 4
3 Hank Poteat.......... DB... 2009 10y A 5
5 Clark Haggans....... LB... 2011 12y A 5

Total.................................................A 6.00
AVGY to date..........................64/09 = 7.11 **Two players still on a 2011 roster.

I give up! An A 6.0 draft grade is about as bad an A as it can get, but with a 7.11 AVGY? This draft defies all the odds. Picking PB in the first round was the worst thing that you could do statistically, but always keep one thing in mind. When it is a top ten pick you can throw out the book.

The first 15 - 20 picks in the first round need to defy the odds. They better be good no matter what position they play. These are the guys who had better make a immediate impact, and Plaxico Burress has done that!

2001 Steelers Draft (11 years ago) 7 players drafted.

1 Casey Hampton........ NT... 2011 11y A 2
2 Kendrell Bell............. LB... 2007 07y B 7
5 Chukky Okobi.......... C...... 2007 07y A 4
6 Rodney Bailey.......... DE... 2007 07y A 4

Total.................................................A 4.85
AVGY to date..........................39/07 = 5.57 *One players still on a 2011 roster.

Someone fell asleep here, but still, the AVGY is above average with Casey still trying to increase it a bit.

2002 Steelers Draft (10 years ago) 8 players drafted.

1 Kendall Simmons.... G..... 2009 08y A 2
2 A. Randle El........... WR.. 2010 09y B 6
3 Chris Hope............. DB... 2011 10y A 5
4 Larry Foote............ LB... 2011 10y A 3
5 Verron Haynes....... RB... 2009 08y A 2
7 Brett Keisel............ DE ...2011 10y A 3

Total.................................................A 4.38
AVGY to date..........................61/08 = 7.63 **Three players still on a 2011 roster.

Two great draft stats in a row, and the AVGY this year is fantastic, especially with 3 players still playing. Zero cuts always helps. When your 3rd, 4th & 7th round picks kick everyone elses butts, then you have an over achieving group. You just have to love that!

2003 Steelers Draft (9 years ago) 5 players drafted.

1 Troy Polamalu........ DB... 2011 09y A 6
4 Ike Taylor............... DB... 2011 09y A 5
5 Brian St. Pierre.......QB... 2010 08y B 8

Total.................................................B 7.20
AVGY......................................29/05 = 5.80 **Two players still on a 2011 roster.

Wow, B 7.2 and still beat the NFL odds by almost a year. With two players still on a roster last year, the AVGY should improve a bit. This is clearly an advantage based upon player evaluation. I don't know why Brian is out of the game, but Troy and Ike certainly made this draft class proud, and only 5 picks for the year!

2004 Steelers Draft (8 years ago) 8 players drafted.

1 B. Roethlisberger...... QB.. 2011 08y A 4
3 Max Starks................. T.... 2011 08y A 2

Total.................................................B 6.00
AVGY......................................26/08 = 3.25 **Two players still on a 2011 roster.

Oh well, you can't win them all! Stop grabbing players who will never make the team (3 CUT in TC) and that may help! Who screwed up here, everyone? A B 6, and a 3.25, with two left on the roster? Some one should answer for that!

At least the two still playing should give this group a healthy final grade! Is this team just so good that these drafted players can't even make the team any more? I would agree with that idea if at least one of the three players cut in camp had made another teams roster, but alas, no luck there.

2005 Steelers Draft (7 years ago) 8 players drafted.

1 Heath Miller.............TE... 2011* 07y B 8
2 Bryant McFadden... DB.. 2011* 07y A 3
3 Trai Essex............... T.... 2011* 07y A 2
6 Chris Kemoeatu....... G... 2011* 07y B 6

Total.................................................B 6.35
AVGY......................................36/08 = 4.50 **Four players still on a 2011 roster.

With 4 guys hangin tough there should be no problem reaching the NFL AVGY. O-line guys have some of the longest careers in the business, and DB's don't do so bad either. TE's have a tougher time beating out the new competition though.

2006 Steelers Draft (6 years ago) 9 players drafted.

1 Santonio Holmes.... WR... 2011* 06y B 9
3 Anthony Smith........ DB... 2011* 06y A 5
4 Willie Colon............ G...... 2011* 06y A 4
5 Omar Jacobs.......... QB... CUT B 10
5 Charles Davis .........TE... CUT B 10
6 Marvin Philip........... C..... CUT B 10
7 Cedric Humes......... RB... CUT B 10
Total.................................................B 7.89
AVGY......................................24/09 = 2.67 **Three players still on a 2011 roster.

What a disaster, Right? Santonio Holmes, Anthony Smith & Willie Colon could care less, because their careers are on going, and that's all that really matters to them! The fact that Holms was picked where he was ( B 9/ Worst spot in the draft For The First Round) means nothing at all to him!

Holmes was named MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, and his career is just 6y's old! I would guess that he could care less about the averages more than anyone else in the freekin business. That 2.67 won't last long with these three guys still active!

Hey Willie. Where is Hofstra University? About 25 miles east of New York City? Ya, you could care less about the stats, right man? (The reason why I didn't erase the 4 players who were cut here is to remind you what happened in 06')

2007 Steelers Draft (5 years ago) 8 players drafted. Tomlin's is now the HC. Kevin Colbert is still the director of football operations.

1 L. Timmons............ LB.. 2011* 5y A 3
2 LaMarr Woodley.... DE.. 2011* 5y B 5
3 Matt Spaeth.......... TE... 2011* 5y B 9
4 Daniel Sepulveda.. P.... 2011* 5y A 1
4 Ryan McBean........ DT.. 2011* 5y A 6
5 William Gay........... DB ..2011* 5y B 6

Total.................................................B 6.13
AVGY......................................32/08 = 4.0 **Six players still on a 2011 roster.

6 out of 8 remain, so this looks like it will deffinately beat the odds. A B 6.13 is rather high draft grade though.

2008 Steelers Draft (4 years ago) 7 players drafted.

1 R. Mendenhall.......... RB... 2011* 4y A 5
3 Bruce Davis............. LB.... 2011* 4y A 3
5 Dennis Dixon........... QB.... 2011* 4y B 8
6 Ryan Mundy............ DB.... 2011* 4y A 2

Total.................................................B 6.28 **Four players still on a 2011 roster.

The grade will get a lot worse before it gets better.

2009 Steelers Draft (3 years ago) 9 players drafted.

1 Evander Hood.......... DE.. 2011* 3y A 7
3 Mike Wallace........... WR.. 2011* 3y B 8
3 Keenan Lewis.......... DB.. 2011* 3y A 5
5 Frank Summers....... RB.. 2011* 3y A 2
6 RaShon Harris........ DT ...2011* 3y A 4
7 David Johnson........ TE ...2011* 3y B

Total.................................................B 6.67 **Six players still on a 2011 roster.

2010 Steelers Draft (2 years ago) 10 players drafted.

1 Maurkice Pouncey.. C.... 2011* A 2
2 Jason Worilds......... DE.. 2011* B 5
3 E. Sanders............. WR. 2011* B 8
5 Crezdon Butler....... DB.. 2011* B 6
5 Steven Sylvester..... LB ..2011* A 5
6 Antonio Brown........ WR.. 2011* B 9

Total.................................................B 7.5 **Six players still on a 2011 roster.

40% cut in camp...not to good. The rest made two years, so hope abounds.

2011 Steelers Draft (1 year ago) 7 players drafted.

1 Cam Heyward DT 2011 1y A 7
2 Marcus Gilbert OL 2011 1y A 2
3 Curtis Brown DB 2011 1y A 5
4 Cortez Allen DB 2011 1y A 5
5 Chris Carter DL 2011 1y A 1
6 Keith Williams OL 2011 1y B 6
7 Baron Batch RB 2011 1y B 7
Total.................................................A 4.7 **Seven players still on a 2011 roster.

Finally, no cuts and a big turn around from last year. To go from a B 7.5 to an A 4.7 is pretty amazing! Someone turned the flood lights on. It wasn't just screwing in the light bulb here, this was a big deal in my book. Of course it is still early for this draft class, but at least they all got 1 year under their belts.

2012 Steelers Draft (0 years ago) 9 players drafted.

1 David DeCastro...... G.... 2012 A 2
2 Mike Adams............ OT.. 2012 A 2
3 Sean Spence.......... LB ...2012 A 3
4 Alameda Ta'amu..... DT.. 2012 A 6
5 Chris Rainey........... RB.. 2012 A 2
7 Toney Clemons...... WR.. 2012 B 9
7 David Paulson........ TE ...2012 B 8
7 T. Frederick........... CB... 2012 B 5
7 Kelvin Beachum..... T ......2012 A 1
Total.................................................A 4.0 Here comes TC, and it can't come too soon 4 me!

Apparently the FO is beginning to pay more attention to the NFL's study last year. An A 4.0 is the best I've seen from any team or draft group I've studied so far. It's still to early this year as there could be players that get cut in camp, so the jury is still out on this years crop.

Cowher & Tom Donahoe's results are an A 5.10 average.
Cowher & Kevin Colbert's results are an A 6.09 average.
Tomlin & Kevin Colbert's results are a B 5.88 average.

Apparently Colbert hasn't had as good a success rate as Tom Donahoe, but then that is just one guys take on the team that you all love. Certainly the HC's make a differenc as can be seen quite easily!

The league's average tenure per player during this 20 year span is 4.87 years. That is a combination of all positions selected in every round. The Steelers have obviously exceeded that average on a consistent basis! Time to give the FO some love Ladies and Gents!

If U made it to this point, I thank you for your interest!

I'll wrap this up by providing you all with the 7 rounds of tables that I used to "grade" these draft years, so that any of you who wish to use them to look at other teams may do so.

AVGY Grading Tables for the draft: (AVGY = Average years played)

The information in each of the lists below includes:

(Position / # of players selected / Average # of years played / Grade)

1st Round

Above AVGY
P/K.................01....12.0 years A 1
O-line..............41....7.85 years A 2
LB's................40....7.73 years A 3
QB's...............32....7.72 years A 4
RB's...............25....7.64 years A 5
DB's...............65....7.58 years A 6
D-Line............76....7.51 years A 7
Below AVGY (AVGY = 7.48)
TE's...............18....7.16 years B 8
WR's..............47....6.51 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

2nd Round

Above AVGY
QB's................14.....8.35 years A 1
O-line...............50....7.46 years A 2
DB's.................92....7.18 years A 3
P/K...................01....7.00 years A 4
Below AVGY (AVGY = 6.67)
D-Line..............55.....6.47 years B 5
WR's................43.....6.44 years B 6
LB's.................47......6.14 years B 7
RB's.................22.....5.63 years B 8
TE's.................26......5.07 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

3rd round

Above AVGY
P/K.................06......8.16 years A 1
O-line..............51......6.37 years A 2
LB's................60......5.98 years A 3
D-Line............54......5.94 years A 4
DB's...............74......5.77 years A 5
Below AVGY (AVGY = 5.74)
QB's...............18.......5.66 years B 6
RB's...............21.......5.47 years B 7
WR's.............45........5.13 years B 8
TE's...............31........4.45 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

4th round

Above AVGY
P/K.................09........6.33 years A 1
QB's...............21........5.42 years A 2
LB's...............59.........5.54 years A 3
O-line.............55........5.01 years A 4
DB's...............83........4.98 years A 5
D-Line............64........4.93 years A 6
Below AVGY (AVGY = 4.87)
WR's..............43........4.69 years B 7
RB's...............31........3.96 years B 8
TE's...............26.........2.84 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

5th round

Above AVGY
D-Line..............58......5.06 years A 1
RB's.................16......5.00 years A 2
P/K...................06......5.00 years A 3
O-line...............65......4.66 years A 4
LB's.................53......4.22 years A 5
Below AVGY (AVGY = 4.08)
DB's.................83.....4.06 years B 6
WR's...............43......3.23 years B 7
QB's................17......3.00 years B 8
TE's.................49......2.71 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

6th round

Above AVGY
P/K.................13........4.76 years A 1
DB's................82.......3.86 years A 2
LB's................52........3.90 years A 3
D-Line............75........3.80 years A 4
Below AVGY (AVGY = 3.54)
QB's...............27........3.51 years B 5
O-line..............63........3.42 years B 6
TE's................33........3.09 years B 7
RB's...............18.........3.00 years B 8
WR's..............52.........2.65 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

7th round

Above AVGY
O-line..............90........3.37 years A 1
P/K.................11.........3.27 years A 2
D-Line.............91........3.08 years A 3
LB's................58.........3.10 years A 4
Below AVGY (AVGY = 2.97)
DB's................83........2.96 years B 5
QB's...............31.........2.74 years B 6
RB's...............29..........2.68 years B 7
TE's................50.........2.66 years B 8
WR's..............69.........2.57 years B 9
CUT's......................................B 10

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