A feature series highlighting the last 10 Steelers drafts 10 days before the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Behind the Steel Curtain managing editor Neal Coolong will evaluate the impact of each of the last 10 Steelers draft classes.
1 (32): Ziggy Hood, DL, Missouri
3 (79): Kraig Urbik, OL, Wisconsin
3 (84): Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi
3 (96): Keenan Lewis, CB, Oregon State
5 (168): Joe Burnett, CB, Central Florida
5 (169): Frank Summers, RB, UNLV
6 (205): Ra'Shon Harris, DL, Oregon
7 (226): A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
7 (241): David Johnson, TE, Arkansas State
The Steelers were coming off their second Super Bowl championship in four years, and looked for some explosive playmaking ability at the wide receiver position. Judging by the way they were manhandled up front in the Super Bowl, it could have been marked as another year in which the offensive line would need to be addressed.
The Steelers would end up addressing both of those needs. Sort of.
More than anything, they wanted to bolster depth at their defensive secondary, but again elected not to address a safety position. With the developing William Gay in tow already, they would let CB Bryant McFadden walk in free agency, and remain linked with Ike Taylor and a younger corner heading into the season.
This draft, top to bottom, has produced fewer impact players than nearly every other one in the last decade. The top 10 can boast six at worst debatable busts - OT Jason Smith, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Aaron Curry, QB Mark Sanchez, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and OT Eugene Monroe. DE Aaron Maybin, RB Knowshon Moreno, CB Malcolm Jenkins and LB Larry English followed them. It would stand to reason a high-level player may have fallen all the way to 32, but after four seasons, it doesn't appear Evander "Ziggy" Hood will be much of a difference-maker - at least not in the Steelers' defense. The options weren't outstanding, besides LB James Laurinaitis or RB LeSean McCoy, and history is now bearing out what was generally a weak draft in the first 64 picks.
In retrospect, this made the Steelers' decision to trade with Denver their second and fourth round picks for two third-round picks, 79th and 84th, a smart move.
These picks seemed to be a throwback to past Steelers' drafts of finding talent in the middle rounds, as well as choosing the internal option over the younger one - two trends that would fall off and continue, respectively, in the years to come.
The Steelers took Wisconsin OT Kraig Urbik with the 79th pick, followed by the one-dimensional WR Mike Wallace with the 84th. Wallace would go on to become one of the biggest playmakers in the league early in his career. Urbik was cut in favor of undrafted OG Ramon Foster, who also joined the team in 2009, and was released in 2010. He was picked up by Buffalo, and has been starting there ever since.
Two out of three ain't bad, though. The Steelers' bookend pick in the third round of 2009 was a tall high school classmate of Wallace's, Keenan Lewis.
Lewis was part of the Steelers' great cornerback acquisition phase from 2008-2010, where they added five cornerbacks from the first four rounds of the draft. Lewis would eventually earn a starting spot, finish second in the NFL in passes defensed, and sign a multi-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.
In a similar fashion the Steelers added wide receivers over this time period, and heading into 2013, Wallace has departed, and Emmanuel Sanders is expected to leave next season. Lewis is gone, the team's fifth round choice in 2009, Joe Burnett, didn't last longer than a season, Gay has left only to return and Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown (2011 and 2010, respectively) still remain.
Despite the "Frank the Tank" hype, he amounted to nothing in his NFL career, nor did Ra'Shon "Sunny" Harris or A.Q. Shipley. They found strong value in seventh-round pick, David Johnson, making the 2009 Draft positive overall.