Part two of discovering the best draft selections in the Steelers first round history highlights a different era in Pittsburgh football. The names from here on up are made up of entirely post merger players, which coincides with the franchise developing into one of the leagues premier organizations.
Over the course of 88 seasons, the organization has made 78 first round picks at almost every possible drafting position in the first round. So let’s break down every overall selection of the first round, in three parts. Today’s article will highlight selections 11-20
2004, Quarterback, Miami (OH)
When all is said and done, Big Ben will go down as the greatest QB in franchise history. Sure Bradshaw has won more titles, but Big Ben making it to three and winning two within the free agency era is just as impressive. Time will tell if Ben is even done winning titles yet as the time of writing this the team has loaded up a roster capable of making run if Roethlisberger can come back from season ending elbow surgery.
His name is plastered all over the Steelers record books and in the next few years will find himself in the top 5 (ish) of every statistical passing record. Big Ben will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, and is the unquestioned greatest number 11 selection in team history.
1982, Running Back, Baylor
In 6 seasons on the Steelers roster, Ambercrombie showed steady improvement. Putting up a respectable 3,357 career rushing, and 1,351 career receiving yards, he would never see the same success as he did in college. Ambercrombie re-wrote the record books for every career rushing statistic, but he couldn’t reach the same level of production with the Steelers. He was never being named to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro roster.
1972, Running Back, Penn State
The Steeler all-time leading rusher, Franco Harris kick-started the Steelers dynasty with his ‘Immaculate Reception’. He would also help lead the team to 4 Super Bow championships, the first of which saw the ‘Italian Stallion’ take over the game on his way to MVP honors. Franco would put up 100 career total touchdowns, nearly 15,000 total yards, was named to 9 Pro Bowls, and was named NFL Man of the year (1976). One of the most beloved members of the team in his era, Franco was an easy choice for the best 13th overall selection.
The only spot of the first round the Steelers never found themselves in. Let’s just hope it’s a long time before the team picks this high again.
15th Overall TIE
2007, Linebacker, Florida State
2015, Linebacker, Ohio State
Since there was no 14th selection, having two at number 15 seems to be appropriate.
Lawrence Timmons was the back bone of one of the best defenses in recent memory. The man in the middle racked up 1,065 career tackles and helped deliver a 6th Lombardi trophy to the Steel City. The first ever draft pick of the Tomlin era was one good enough to make the list.
His brother-in-arms comes in with him.
Ryan Shazier was on pace to becoming one of the all-time great Steelers defenders. A revolutionary type linebacker with corner type speed and range, Shazier played all over the field. His tragic (and likely career ending) injury halted a career on an upward assent which likely would have heard Shazier’s name spoken with the best defenders in football.
2003, Strong Safety, Southern California
The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was one of the most entertaining and dangerous players of his era. Polamalu will be remembered for some of the most mind-blowing interceptions, jumping over O-Lineman for sacks, his creativity, and being one of the best players in the NFL. Again I bring you these insane career achievements:
2× Super Bowl champion (XL, XLIII)
8× Pro Bowl (2004–2008, 2010, 2011, 2013)
4× First-team All-Pro (2005, 2008, 2010, 2011)
2× Second-team All-Pro (2004, 2007)
NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2010)
If it wasn’t for Troy, who knows if the Steelers would have even made a Super Bowl the in past 25 years.
1981, Defensive End, Oklahoma
Keith Gary would famously spur the Steelers after the draft by signing with the Montreal Allouettes of the Canadian Football League. The defensive end would eventually come to terms with Pittsburgh 2 years later. He went on to play 6 years in Pittsburgh, but he is perhaps most famously known for ripping off the face mask of Bengals Quarterback Ken Anderson leaving the QB temporarily paralyzed.
2010, Center, Florida
Maurkice Pouncey has kept alive a streak of unbelievably good Center play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dating back to Hall of Famer ‘Iron’ Mike Webster, then to Hall of Famer Dermonti Dawson, through to a decade of dominance for the current Steelers center. Whether or not Pouncey joins his contemporaries in the hall is yet to be known, but he has been an integral part of one of footballs best O-Lines the past decade.
2001, Nose Tackle, Texas
One of the All-time great run stuffing nose tackles, Hampton was an integral part of the defense which brought Super Bowls XL and XLIII back to Pittsburgh. ‘Big Snack’ would go on to play 157 regular season games, register 350 tackles and accumulated 9 sacks. His efforts would land Hampton on 5 Pro-Bowl teams and a spot on the Steelers ‘All-Time Team’.
1985, Defensive End, Wisconsin
Darryl Sims played in all 32 games of his 2 year career with the Steelers. Never living up to the hype of a 1st round pick, Sims would retire after spending another two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Two picks later the Chicago Bears drafted William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry, it’s probably fair to say this is one pick the Steelers would probably want back.
We are officially 2 parts through this 3 part series. Come back tomorrow for our final installment! If you haven't already you can read part 1 right HERE.
Who’s the biggest steal to this point? Let us know in the comments below!