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 5: Lacking
2008 - Dennis Dixon
2009 - Frank Summers
2009 - Joe Burnett
2010 - Stevenson Sylvester
2010 - Crezdon Butler
2010 - Chris Scott
2011 - Chris Carter
2012 - Chris Rainey
2013 - Terry Hawthorne
It's a widely reaching group, almost all, if they ever played, providing spot-starts and situation-based production.
It probably isn't far from the league average for a fifth round pick, but essentially none of the players the Steelers have drafted since 2008 in the fifth round have developed into consistent starters. Some stayed with the team just long enough to get some free shoes and sweat pants. Many are named Chris.
Dixon gave the team some decent play in a few spot starts, most notably, in 2010 while Ben Roethlisberger sat out on a suspension. Until he got hurt, of course, which is one of the headlines of Dixon's book of work as a professional.
Summers carried with him a colorful nickname "Frank the Tank," but had as uneventful a career as possible in Pittsburgh. He hooked on with the Bills, like many of these players have, thanks in part to Bills general manager and former Steelers pro players coordinator Doug Whaley, and remains there today.
Burnett came in with Summers, played in 15 games his rookie year for the Steelers, then never played again.
Sylvester, probably the pride of this group, has been a reliable back-up utility linebacker since being acquired in 2010, and still may end up with the Steelers this season as well. Crezdon Butler and Chris Scott also came in the 2010 fifth round bonanza for the Steelers, and both ended up with Buffalo, among other stops. Neither have played much at the pro level.
Chris Carter, likely taking Sylvester's spot as an affordable veteran of the system player, made a start late last season when Jarvis Jones came down to the flu before their game against the Packers. His best attribute now is an affordable contract with experience, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the chopping block this year.
Chris Rainey brought a lot of hype, but proved to be nothing more than a decent kick returner with little ability on the offensive side of the ball. Great speed, but Rainey is one of the weakest runners in the NFL. He was released after an allegation surfaced involving an incident with his girlfriend. Rainey has denied the charge, but after a rookie season in which he failed to impress as the kind of versatile third-down back the Steelers wanted, it was all the team needed to let him go. He signed with the Colts since then.
Hawthorne didn't even make the team out of training camp and is not in the NFL currently. Injuries were said to be an issue with him, but he wasn't placed on injured reserve when the Steelers cut him from last year's team. The injury issue will loom over the Steelers' selection, because outside of that, it was a completely blown pick from the Steelers, typifying an otherwise shoddy record in getting at least back-up level players in the fifth round.