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The Pittsburgh Steelers And Their Past Draft Status

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Yesterday we took a look at the Steelers' offense to see where exactly the more productive players were drafted. On to the defense. Blitzburgh and I felt that we would probably find more players drafted in higher rounds on defense than on offense. The reasoning we had was that it takes a certain level of physical prowess to get a sniff by pro scouts and GMs coming out of college. It's riskier to roll the dice on an undersized or unpolished defensive player than it is on a WR who may be small but is fast, or on a WR like Marques Colston who played at a no-name football program, to name just a few examples. Let's see if the data supports that hypothesis, at least for our roster:

First Rounders:
James Farrior (1997) - New York Jets
Casey Hampton (2001)
Troy Polamalu (2003)
Lawrence Timmons (2007)

Second Rounders:
Bryant McFadden (2005)
LaMarr Woodley (2007)

Third Rounders:
Anthony Smith (2006)

Fourth Rounders:
Aaron Smith (1999)
DeShea Townsend (1998)
Tyrone Carter (2000) - Minnesota Vikings
Larry Foote (2002)
Ike Taylor (2003)
Nick Eason (2003) - by Denver Broncos

Fifth Rounders:
William Gay (2007)

Seventh Rounders:
Brett Keisel (2002)

Undrafted Free Agents:
Travis Kirschke (1997)
Chris Hoke (2001)
Ryan Clark (2002)
James Harrison (2002)

Conclusions:
Well, the data doesn't exactly confirm what we thought might be the case. There are an equal number of first round significant contributors on both sides of the ball (4), and there's actually more third round talent on offense (6) as there is fourth round on defense (6). What really jumps out is the high volume of undrafted free agents that have stuck around since coming into the league earlier this decade, or late last in the case of Kirschke. Hoke and Kirschke of course aren't as valuable as Willie Parker is, but Ryan Clark and James Harrison certainly have had either solid careers (Clark) or a fantastic season (Harrison in '07). It's incredible the disparity in careers between fellow fourth rounders like Aaron Smith and Nick Eason for example. One is one of the more underated and underappreciated linemen in the game. The other had us all shrugging our shoulders when he was resigned last week. One thing that's worth noting is that a remarkably high number of players on both offense and defense were drafted by the Steelers. You'll notice that only a handful of players from our roster has been acquired via trade or free agency. The rest is homegrown talent. We plan on looking at other successful teams to see their formulas for success, but outside of the Colts (who I believe drafted every starter on their squad) and a few others, I doubt there's many teams with this much in-house talent.