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The best draft picks by selection in Steelers history: 33-50

Surprise! I’m back with part 4! The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the greatest drafting teams in NFL history, but who are the best picks by number selected?

Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

You guys loved parts 1-3 so much that I had to return with a fourth part. With some positive encouragement, who knows, this series might make further installments!

*Note before the draft was expanded in 1967, teams would typically be in the 3rd round when pick 33 was on the clock. So round selected doesn't matter anymore!

Let’s get into it! The greatest Steelers by overall selection: picks 33-50

33rd Overall

Charley Mehelich
1946, Defensive End/Tight End, Duquesne

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Texas Tech at West Virginia Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Perhaps the true greatest 33rd overall pick in Pittsburgh Steelers history is really Tackle, Vic Sears. Sears was cut before he ever played a snap in Pittsburgh however, he ended up playing 13 seasons entirely for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 33rd selection on this list features Charley Mehelich. Mehelich, played 6 seasons in Pittsburgh playing on both sides of the ball as a Tight-End and Defensive-End. Through out his career he racked up a total of 15 receptions, 172 yards, 4 fumble recoveries, and a safety.

34th Overall

Jack Ham
1971, Linebacker, Penn State

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Jack Ham is perhaps the greatest Linebacker in Steelers history. Ham’s most dominant stretch saw him pick up eight consecutive Pro-Bowls and All-Pro teams, as well as four Super Bowl championships. Ham was also the 1975 NFL Defensive player of the year. Considering his teammates, this accomplishment is beyond mind boggling. With Joe Greene being the obvious number 1, I would argue Jack Ham is the second-greatest defensive player in team history.

35th Overall

Don Shy
1967, Running Back, San Diego State

Cleveland Browns v Chicago Bears Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images

Don Shy’s NFL career was brief, and is best known for his stint with the Chicago Bears. Shy would pick up 341 yards and 4 touchdowns as a rookie but would flame out of Pittsburgh after a disappointing sophomore season.

Shy was also a world class hurdler, posting a time of 13.64 seconds in the 110 meter hurdle race in 1966 which was the 2nd best time in the world that year.

36th Overall

Gerald Williams
1986, Nose Tackle, Auburn

San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Williams was one of those first generation nose tackle players. Standing 6’ 3” and weighing 290 pounds, Williams was one of the Heavier players in the NFL. He would go on to play 12 pro-seasons, 9 with the Steelers, and posted 396 tackles, 25.5 sacks, and forced 5 fumbles.

37th Overall

Ray Pinney
1976, Tackle, Washington

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Pinney, had a very interesting career ark. He was drafted to the Steelers in 1976 and would work his way up the depth chart before taking over starting duties from Larry Brown In 1978, and more specifically, he took the job just before Super Bowl XIII. In 1979, Pinney battled injuries the entirety of the season, he even had to watch Super Bowl XIV from the stands. By 1980 Larry Brown had solidified himself as the right tackle and Pinney would make the move to left guard before kicking out to left tackle in 1981. Pinney would stay at LT until injuries again cut his 1982 season short.

1983 would see the upstart USFL stealing Pinney away from the Steelers paying him double what he made in Pittsburgh. Pinney would go on to lead the Michigan Panthers to the USFL title his first year in town. After two more seasons with the USFL’s Oakland Invaders the league would cease operation and Pinney would return to Pittsburgh where he would spend the last 3 years of his career.

38th Overall

Levon Kirkland
1992, Linebacker, Clemson

Steelers Levon Kirkland Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Levon Kirkland was the heaviest Middle Linebacker in NFL history. Seriously, the man weighed in anywhere between 275-300 pounds throughout his NFL Career. But Kirkland wasn't just a large human being, he was one of the most dominant Linebacker’s of his era. Posting 982 career tackles, 19.5 sacks, and 11 interceptions, the best game of his career came in Super Bowl XXX where Kirkland would put up 10 Tackles, had a massive sack on Troy Aikman, and anchored the unit which held Emmitt Smith to just 56 yards. Had it not been for a couple ill-advised Neil O’Donnell passes, Kirkland would have hoisted a Lombardi in Pittsburgh.

39th Overall

Kendrell Bell
2001, Linebacker, Georgia

AFC Wild Card Browns v. Steelers Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

What could have been...

Kendrell Bell exploded onto the scene in 2001, picking up AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the year honors. Bell would steadily improve in both of the next two seasons. Unfortunately, Bell hurt his knee In a 36-33 comeback win against the Browns in 2003 and would continuously re-aggravate the injury until his 2004 season would be cut to just 3 appearances.

Bell himself would be cut in the 2004 offseason. Eventually signing with the Cheifs. He never got his career back on track from before the knee injury.

40th Overall


For the 2nd time writing this list the Steelers have never actually picked in the 40th selection before.

41st Overall

Jeremy Staat
1998, Defensive End, Arizona state

Steelers Jeremy Staat Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Staat never lived up to his 41st overall selection. Only playing 3 seasons with the Steelers, Staat produced only 30 tackles. But off the field Staat was a personal friend of Pat Tillman. Their friendship started when they were both teammates at ASU. Staat even wanted to join the military with Tillman at the conclusion of his 3-year tenure with the Steelers, however Tillman convinced him to play another season so he would gain his NFL retirement benefits.

After Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Iraq, Staat decided against a post football career with the Army but would serve in the US Marines.

42nd Overall

Warren Bankston
1969, Full Back, Tulane

Warren Bankston - Oakland Raiders

Warren Bankston entered the NFL as a Full Back and had some success in the role. When some kid named Franco Harris was drafted to the club, Chuck Noll decided to move Bankston to Tight End. But it would be the Oakland Raiders who saw potential in Bankston at the position, and traded for the Tulane alum.

Bankston would captain the Raiders to a Super Bowl championship in 1976.

43rd Overall

Kenny Davidson
1990, Defensive End, Louisiana State

Steelers Kenny Davidson Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Kenny Davidson, just never quite put it all together throughout his NFL career. He would peak in 1993 with Pittsburgh and 1994 with the Houston Oilers, but quickly found himself out of the NFL shortly thereafter. The 3-4 defensive end would put up 16 Sacks over 6 seasons in the NFL.

44th Overall

Dermontti Dawson
1988, Center, Kentucky

Steelers Dermontti Dawson Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Dermontti Dawson was an athletic and dominate anchor of the the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line for 13 seasons. His stretch from 1992-1998 was one of the most dominate in NFL history for a center. Over that time, Dawson was named to all 7 Pro-Bowl teams and 6 first team All-Pro units.

Dawson redefined what it meant to be a center. His athletic ability saw him pull around tackles in the wide-running schemes, which was something no one else at the position could do. He carried the tradition of dominant center play from Mike Webster, and was eventually succeeded by Maurkice Pouncey. Because of Dermontti Dawson, no other team hasthe success and longevity at the center position quite like the Pittsburgh Steelers have had.

In 2012 the Kentucky alum would be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

45th Overall

Barry French
1951, Tackle, Purdue

Pittsburgh Cityscapes And City Views Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Steelers have selected 3 times in the 45th slot. All three times the player selected would end up playing less than a full year in the league. Jack Frye, Bill Long, and Barry French, lets give it to the guy who lasted the longest...

46th Overall

Jack Lambert
1974, Linebacker, Kent State

Pittsburgh Steelers

Has there ever been a player that struck fear in opponents hearts quite like Jack Lambert? Not only was he terrifying but he was dang good. Just look at these career achievements:

4× Super Bowl champion
Pro Bowl (1975–1983)
6× First-team All-Pro (1976, 1979–1983)
2× Second-team All-Pro (1975, 1978)
NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1976)
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1974)

I think my favorite Jack Lambert story is when he met fellow 1974 draft class member, Lynn Swann, Instead of greeting the future Hall of Fame receiver, Lambert just turned to Swann and said “I should've been the number 1 pick”.

I guess in the end it worked out all the way around as the 1974 class is the benchmark for great draft classes.

*The 46th pick has been really good for the Steelers as they also drafted Stephon Tuitt and Lamar Woodley in this spot.

47th Overall

Mike Kruczek
1976, Quarterback, Boston College

Baltimore Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Pick 47 hasn't been a kind one to the Steelers.

While Kruczek can always say he started his career 6-0, he was surrounded by the greatest defense in Steelers (and lets be real— league) history and had two 1,000 yard backs in Franco Harris, and Rocky Bleier. How that team didn't win it all in ‘76 still boggles my mind. Kruczek never threw a touchdown pass over that stretch, or his career, and served as the Steelers back-up QB from 1976-1979.

48th Overall

Le’Veon Bell
2013, Running Back, Michigan State

NFL: JAN 14 AFC Divisional Playoff Jaguars at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire

If only the Steelers decided to give the big ticket to Le’Veon Bell instead of “Mr. 3rd & 5th,” Antonio Brown. Outside of the hold-outs, Bell will be remembered for being a one-of-a-kind running back. His patience and receiving ability places the RB in a class of his own when describing how his position is played. During his 6 (...well 5) seasons with the Steelers, Bell was thrice named to the Pro-Bowl and All-pro teams. He, alongside Ben Roethlisberger, and Brown created one of the most dominate ‘triplets’ in NFL history.

Oh, Le’Veon, what could have been.

49th Overall

Willie Fry
1978, Defensive End, Notre Dame

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers 4Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Once Chase Claypool gets his first NFL season under his belt, he will take over the spot on this list. Fellow Notre Dame alum Willie Fry is a place-holder for now, but there is no way I would put Claypool over a 2 time Super Bowl champ before he even plays in a game. The only problem is Fry never actually got on the field— at all. This spot is as good as Claypool’s so long as he actually plays.

50th Overall

Brentson Buckner
1994, Defensive Tackle, Clemson

Steelers Brentson Buckner

Buckner was actually a solid player for the better part of 11 seasons in the NFL. He was an integral part of the Super Bowl XXX team, and was a consistent defensive tackle over three years with the Steelers. Being traded away to the Bengals in ‘97, Buckner would go on to have another successful 8 seasons and would again come up short in Super Bowl XXXVIII with the Carolina Panthers.

So that's the list! What do you guys think? Who is your favorite selection so far? And should I write another part? Let us know in the comments below

Also make sure to check out the first three parts:

The best draft picks by selection in Steelers history: 1-10
The best draft picks by selection in Steelers history: 11-20
The best draft picks by selection in Steelers history: 21-32