I don’t know why I chose Emmanuel Forbes as the headliner for this article about Steelers fans having meltdowns over draft picks.
I guess you could say the cornerback from Mississippi State is like the person the standup comic “randomly” picks on in the audience as the setup to their next bit.
Having said that, however, Forbes is a 166-pound corner. Sure, he’s talented. Sure, he’s fast. Sure, he returned six of his 14 interceptions for touchdowns as a member of the Bulldogs’ secondary.
But while selecting a cornerback with a premium pick would address a glaring need on the Steelers' roster, it’s hard to imagine Forbes actually filling that need, not at 166 pounds.
It’s okay, though. I know I shouldn’t be having meltdowns over draft picks. I’m more self-aware about my actions than I used to be, which is why I’ve safeguarded my house just in case Forbes is who Pittsburgh selects in the first round (17th, overall) in the 2023 NFL Draft.
That’s right, I have two of my Nickelback CDs ready to be smashed with a hammer if Forbes is the Steelers' first-round pick. If Pittsburgh selects Forbes with the first pick of the second round (32nd, overall), I will only smash one of my Nickelback CDs. If the Steelers take Forbes at 49, both of my Nickelback CDs will be safe because I think that would represent great draft value.
Obviously, I’ve come a long way over the years and now realize how silly it is to do real harm over a Steelers’ draft choice.
It wasn’t always that way.
I remember the first time I had a meltdown over a Steelers draft.
It was the night of the 1974 NFL Draft. I wasn’t quite two years old at that point, but I was highly aware that the Steelers went into the draft with only 21 picks at their disposal: One in the first round; one in the second round; two in the fourth round; one in the fifth round; two in the sixth round; two in the seventh round; one in the eighth round; two in the ninth round; two in the 10th round; one in the 11th round; one in the 12th round; one in the 13th round; one in the 14th round; one in the 15th round; one in the 16th round; and one in the 17th round. Also, Pittsburgh did not have a third-round selection, which meant the organization had to really hit on its picks in the first and second rounds.
The Steelers addressed a need in the first round by selecting Lynn Swann, a receiver out of USC. Who would Pittsburgh take in the second round? Would the team try to find someone who could lead the defense at middle linebacker? Yes....but it was Jack Lambert, an undersized guy from Kent State.
I couldn’t believe it.
I was so distraught over this that I kept my mother up all evening with the night terrors.
Yes, I know how the Steelers' 1974 Draft Class turned out. Four members of that class went to the Hall of Fame. Five, actually, because Donnie Shell, an undrafted free agent from that group, was inducted in 2021. However, I remain steadfast in my belief that the Steelers could have waited until the fourth round to nab a player like Lambert. First of all, it would have represented great draft value. Secondly, imagine who the Steelers could have selected in the second round had they not reached for Lambert.
And I’m still not over the fact that Pittsburgh didn’t have a third-round pick in 1974.
Fast-forward 14 years.
The Steelers were set to draft someone with the 18th pick in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Would it be Lorenzo White, a high-profile running back from Michigan State? This was who I coveted. This was who the newspapers told me they might take.
The answer was a quick and resounding “no.” Instead, Pittsburgh selected Aaron Jones, defensive end, Eastern Kentucky.
I couldn’t believe it.
I was writing the names of each draft choice down in my notebook (that’s how we did it in the old days), and I was so dejected when the commissioner announced the Jones pick that I spelled his first name “Erin.” This wasn’t an example of toxic masculinity on my part--I’m pretty sure that term didn’t exist back then (maybe as a lyric in a Guns N’ Roses song)--I was just distraught and forgot how to spell things at that moment. I was also 15 and may or may not have been bad at spelling.
Moving ahead to the 2015 NFL Draft.
I was so angry that Pittsburgh selected Bud Dupree, an athletic outside linebacker from Kentucky, in the first round (22nd, overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, I immediately went on Twitter and told everyone that Han Solo died in the latest Star Wars movie.
Sure, I had to go into witness protection, but I had Dupree ranked as the fifth-best EDGE/LB on my 2015 draft big board—Defeo’s Draft Diary—and he seemed like a player the Steelers could have gotten in Round 2 or 3.
Two years later, after the Steelers selected T.J. Watt with the 30th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, I replied to a passive-aggressive text by my then-girlfriend by saying, “OK, maybe I will forget it.”
Speaking of witness protection.
As you can see, I did a lot of damage in the past by not realizing that the NFL Draft was the ultimate crapshoot.
I think I finally understand that now, which is why I haven’t had a draft-induced meltdown in over half a decade.
But if Emmanuel Forbes is the Steelers' pick this year....thankfully, a Nickelback CD has never represented great value.