Seven reasons from seven rounds to .500: First round

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

The Steelers have fallen to 16-16 the last two seasons. A big part of that has been the lack of adequate roster refreshment since 2008. We're exploring each round since 2008, analyzing what went wrong with those classes.

A draft is more about adding talent for the future than it is adding it to the present. The result of the Steelers' drafts since 2008 have been more negative than positive, but each round appears to have a different reason based on the decisions the team has made. We explore each round and get to the root problem of each one.

Round 1: Health

The Steelers ruled the first round from 2000 to 2007. A huge part of their sustained success in that time was the success of those eight players - Plaxico Burress, Casey Hampton, Kendall Simmons, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes and Lawrence Timmons.

Teams aren't built on the first round alone, but a lot of talent can come from there.

From 2008 to 2013, some of that magic was lost. Along with the contributing factor of their hot streak coming to an end, health, above all else, held the Steelers down in this round.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall (2008) blew out his knee in Week 17 of a very strong 2011 season. He never recovered and his final season in Pittsburgh was only slightly better than his rookie year, when he missed most of it with injury.

Maurkice Pouncey (2010) missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, missed Super Bowl XLV with a broken leg and has missed multiple games throughout an otherwise outstanding career. The argument can be made the lack of both Pouncey and Mendenhall has led the Steelers to fall off in rushing production, even if the presence of them didn't make them a top five unit either.

David DeCastro (2012) is working toward becoming one of the best interior offensive linemen in the game, if he isn't already. Unfortunately, the Steelers lost all but three games of his rookie year due to a knee injury he suffered in preseason. He and Pouncey have played three games and eight plays together with the Steelers, and they've been on the roster together for two seasons. Incidentally, DeCastro's missed block is what took Pouncey down.

Cameron Heyward (2011) and Ziggy Hood (2009) haven't suffered significant injuries, but Hood may as well have, for the little amount of production he had in his five years in Pittsburgh. He's now with Jacksonville. Heyward broke out in 2013 and looks to become a foundation player of this franchise for the next few years at least.

The jury is still out on 2013 first round pick Jarvis Jones, but he did miss three games. Trend? Considering the amount of injuries this team's first round picks have had the last six drafts, it doesn't create a settling feeling.

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