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On The Clock is every Steelers fan’s ultimate inside look at Pittsburgh draft history

The most recent Steeler’s book from insider Jim Wexell tells of some of Pittsburgh’s greatest draft picks and how things aligned for the players to land in the Steel City.

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2004 NFL Draft - Day One Photo by Tom Berg/Getty Images

Jim Wexell has done it again.

After releasing Polamalu in late 2020, Wexell has gifted Steelers’ Nation with another gem, this time specifically about the Steelers preparation, implementation, and, in many cases, eventual success of player selected in the NFL draft. On The Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the NFL Draft starts with the Steelers first ever draft pick in William Shakespeare, despite never playing for the Steelers, and even includes his eventual scuffle with Ernest Hemingway. Stories about Byron “Whizzer” White and the deal Art Rooney struck in order for him to simply play just one season in Pittsburgh shows the early struggles through the draft long before the Steelers became the historic franchise they are known as today.

In what became the ultimate turnaround for the Steelers franchise, Wexell brilliantly weaves together the stories of Bill Nunn, Joe Greene, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw, and Mel Blount. Whether it be the emergence of these players on the college level, the Steelers finding their franchise coach after years of mediocrity, or a shift in evaluating players by Bill Nunn which changed the franchise forever, how the scout, coach, and players all came together to lay the foundation of what would be a Super Bowl team is presented in a way to keep the reader wanting more on every page.

Any discussion of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL draft is not complete without their record-setting draft of 1974 in which they drafted four Hall of Fame players and signed another as an undrafted free agent. How did the Steelers manage to land all of this talent? There was a lot of discussion as to who would be available at which selections. With Chuck Noll ultimately wanting John Stallworth in the first round, trusting his talent evaluators and waiting until Round 4 allowed for two more Hall of Fame players to be taken first. Exactly how it all played out leading up to the draft, during the process, and the unprecedented preseason consisting mostly of rookie players helped shape what would be the Steelers first Super Bowl season. Of course, it’s all covered in detail in On The Clock.

The drafts through the 80s and 90s are covered, as well as how Dexter Jackson almost kept the Steelers from drafting Troy Polamalu so much so they didn’t even attend his pro day. And who can forget the 2004 NFL draft where the Steelers landed their franchise quarterback? Exactly how Ben Roethlisberger didn’t end up in San Diego or Cleveland still baffles many to this day.

For any Steelers fan, even if the draft isn’t really your thing, On The Clock is a great addition to your library. As much as I would like to recommend this as the ultimate Christmas present for a Steelers fan, I don’t know if waiting almost two months in order to indulge in On The Clock is something a true Steelers fanatic would be willing to do.

On The Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the NFL Draft by Jim Wexell is available for purchase as an e-book or in paperback HERE.