BTSC continues to profile the best Steelers players to begin their careers with other teams since 1969 by chronicling the starting defense. While there are some blockbuster names at certain positions, other slots are filled with lesser-known names that may be deemed questionable. But know this, there were some spots that the Steelers continually drafted well. So very well, in fact, that reserves are occupying that position on this list.
Take note that James Harrison is NOT on this list. He originally came to the Steelers as an undrafted free agent and wore the No. 93. He was let go twice and the Ravens picked him up. Harrison played in the World League for the Rhein Fire and eventually returned to the Steelers when Clark Haggans was injured in 2004. Trust me, Deebo would be on this list if the Steelers weren’t his first team out of Kent State.
Let’s take a look at the best defensive imports.
DE Donald Evans
Evans’ first few years in the league didn’t yield too much production after being a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1987. After a stop in Philadelphia and a year of not playing at all, the third time was a charm for the defensive end from Winston-Salem State. No. 66 started all but two of 64 games after he caught on with Chuck Noll’s Steelers. After the 1993 season in which he had 6.5 of his 14.5 sacks as a Steeler, Evans left for a free-agent deal with the New York Jets.
DE Ray Seals
Seals never played college ball, but his success with the minor league Syracuse Express of the Empire Football League led him to an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five seasons in 1989. Seals was responsible for Bret Favre’s first-ever completion when he batted his throw into the air and Favre caught his own pass. As a free-agent signing in Pittsburgh, Seals was a hard charger and a force on the defensive line for the Steelers. He also was part of the Super Bowl XXX club. No. 97 was most infamous for organizing “the 60-Minute Men” music video the week of the AFCCG loss to San Diego following the 1994 season. But his 15.5 sacks made his two seasons in Pittsburgh a success. Seals didn’t play in 1996 due to injury and spent 1997, his final year in the NFL, in Carolina.
DT Kimo von Oelhoffen
Kimo originally burst onto the scene as a sixth-rounder with the Bengals in Cincinnati where he played his first six professional seasons. In 2000, the Steelers came calling and No. 67 spent six years with the Steelers organization and tallied 20.5 of his career 26.5 sacks wearing the black-and-gold. The Hawaiian won a Super Bowl with the Steelers and his play up front helped them achieve that.
OLB Arthur Moats
Moats joined the team in 2014 and has now spent the same amount of time with the Steelers that he has with the team that drafted him in 2010, the Buffalo Bills. The sixth-rounder out of James Madison was a valuable reserve for the Steelers and has filled in ably to start when needed. Moats, a big community guy as well, recorded 11.5 of his 16.5 career sacks as a Steeler. Moats isn’t currently on the team’s roster for 2018.
OLB Kevin Greene
The first of the great free-agent pickups in team history, No. 91 was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in Round 5 of the 1985 NFL Draft. After eight seasons in Anaheim, Greene sought out 3-4 defenses and decided on the Steelers. In only three seasons in the Steel City, Greene logged 35.5 sacks and led the NFL with 14 in 1994. A member of the esteemed “Quiver and Quake” duo with Greg Lloyd, Greene played the run well and was a devestating pass rusher. Despite spending only three years in the Burgh, the NFL’s third all-time sacker elected to receive his HOF ring from the Steelers franchise.
ILB James Farrior
In 2002, Steelers Nation was reeling from the loss of LB Earl Holmes to the Cleveland Browns in free agency. But then James Farrior arrived and became a mainstay on the inside for a decade until after the 2011 season. The 15-year vet was drafted eighth overall by the Jets out of Virginia in 1997, but initially was merely pedestrian. As a Steeler, however, he was a driving force on two Lombardi winners, twice an All Pro and the team’s MVP in 2004. Because of his 10-year tenure in Pittsburgh, “Potsie” may be the greatest free-agent pickup in team history.
ILB Clint Kriewaldt
Another valuable reserve, but even more a solid special-teamer, Clint was drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions in 1999. A Super Bowl champion in the Burgh, Kriewaldt finished his five-year career as a Steeler in 2007.
CB Dewayne Washington
The Vikings chose Washington in 1994’s first round and the CB joined The Steelers after his rookie contract ran out. Of his 31 career interceptions, 19 came while playing for the Steelers for six seasons from 1998 to 2003. No. 20 did solid work in the Steeler secondary and retired after 12 seasons in 2005 as a Kansas City Chief.
CB Joe Haden
Haden was a surprise that fell in the Steelers lap right before the start of the 2017 campaign, when the Browns played “Moneyball” with him and released the two-time Pro Bowler. Haden would have made more money from other offers he received, but chose the Steelers for a shot at the title and (allegedly) a shot at the Browns twice per year. Last season, Haden had only one of his 20 career interceptions, but he helped strengthen a young secondary when he wasn’t out of the lineup due to injury.
S Ryan Clark
Ryan Clark entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Giants in 2002, but stayed in the league for 13 seasons. After a stint with Washington, Clark joined Bill Cowher’s Steelers in 2006 as a free agent. The explosive hitter won a ring in a Pittsburgh uniform in 2008 and was an integral part of a dominating defense during that period. A Pro-Bowl selection in 2011, No. 25 spent eight seasons wearing black-and-gold.
SS Tyrone Carter
The hard-hitting Carter played college ball at Minnesota and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2000. After three years there and another season with the Jets, the 5’8” Carter enjoyed six of his finest seasons in the Steel City, where he had six picks and won two Super Bowl rings.
P Chris Gardocki
Gardocki was a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1991 and enjoyed a 16-year career in the NFL, his final three as a Steeler. Gardocki, a Pro Bowl punter in 1996 with Indianapolis, averaged 42.1 yards per punt with the Steelers and helped win a Super Bowl in 2005.
So there you have the best players that the Steelers brought in after playing for another franchise. As always, there will be omissions. But please state your case in the comments for why your choices are better than the ones selected.