In an effort to continue to blast all of you guys with draft coverage, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at our current roster and the round in which they were drafted. It's a pretty common opinion, not just in Pittsburgh but around the league as well, that the Steelers do a great job of building their team through the draft. Building via free agency is not in vogue in the NFL anymore, as teams try to emulate the success that teams like the Colts, Steelers, Packers and Pats (to name a few) have had not overpaying for aging veterans, instead acquiring young talent in key positions. We've already broken down most of the past ten year's drafts but it's interesting to see how the current roster is comprised of a good mixture of draft picks.
First to introduce the offense, followed by the defense later today. You will find that I have not listed each and every last player on the Steelers' depth chart. Sorry Cody Boyd et al. This collection of offensive talent has combined for 8 Pro Bowls, 3 All-Pro selections, a Rookie of the Year, and one SB MVP. As you might expect the starters were, on average, drafted a bit higher than most of the backups, but there are some obvious exceptions such as FWP and Davis. One thing that stands out slightly though is that multiple players have been found in every round except for the second. That is mostly due to an odd quirk that only two offensive players have been drafted in the second round since 1998 (Randle El & M. Smith).
Kendall Simmons (2002)
Ben Roethlisberger (2004)
Heath Miller (2005)
Santonio Holmes (2006)
Marvel Smith (2000)
Marvel pats Ben on the back
here, but it's his back that
Steelers fans are worried about
Hines Ward (1998)
Sean Mahan (2003) - Tampa Bay
Max Starks (2004)
Trai Essex (2005)
Willie Reid (2006)
Matt Speath (2007)
Will the big man be in Pittsburgh
to hopefully live up to his 3rd-Round
Willie Colon (2006)
Najeh Davenport (2002) - Green Bay
Mewelde Moore (2004) - Minnesota
Justin Hartwig (2002) - by Tennessee
Chris Kemoeatu (2005)
Undrafted Free Agents:
Willie Parker (2004)
Carey Davis (2004)
Nate Washington (2005)
It's not hard to see how important it is to draft well in the early rounds but the job of talent evaluation is crucial all the way through the draft and even afterwards. Outside of Kendall Simmons, we've done remarkably well with our 1st Rounders. Except for in 1999 when we drafted Troy Edwards, Donahoe and Colbert have yet to select a bust in the first round. I already mentioned that strange idiosyncracy about the 2nd round, but take a look at the 3rd round once again. That's some solid talent there. Fine, not Mahan, and Willie Reid has plenty to prove, but obviously Hines was arguably one of the best 2nd day selections in Steelers' draft history.
I will say that I think it's time that we make a safer bet on an offensive linemen on Day 1. Sure we may have confidence in our ability to find talent and value in the later rounds, but it's a risky proposition loading your roster with Day 2 linemen selections (see Chris K, Max Starks, Willie Colon). This coming draft is one of the most important in Kevin Colbert's tenure in Pittsburgh. We're close to being part of the cream of the crop in the NFL, but as is, we're not quite in the same league as the Colts, Pats, Chargers, Jags, and perhaps even the Packers, though we'll have to see what happens with Aaron Rogers. If we fare well this April, I'm confident we'll be positioned to not only make the playoffs for the next 5-8 years, but have a legitimate shot at making another Super Bowl run in one or more years. Stay tuned.