The draft is always more exciting when teams are wheeling & dealing, moving up and down the board. It makes for better TV. However, Omar Khan & Mike Tomlin should be cautious about trading up OR down in rounds 2 & 3. The results have been very hit & miss. Let’s take a look back at some of the moves the Pittsburgh Steelers have made in these rounds over the years.
Traded: pick 59 (2nd) & 1997’s pick 121 (4th) to Rams
Received:Jerome Bettis and pick 72 (3rd). Drafted Steve Conley
Hindsight: Bettis is a HOFer; nuff said. Conley appeared in 18 games in his first two seasons. He made one start in 1998 before being traded to Indianapolis. Obviously, The Bus makes up for the bust.
Traded: pick 56 (2nd), pick 87 (3rd) & pick 149 (5th) to Jets
Received: pick 41 (2nd) and drafted Jeremy Staat
Hindsight: At the time, Ed Bouchette said that Pittsburgh may take Staat in round 1 if Faneca wasn’t there. But Staat rarely saw the field, accumulating 30 tackles in 29 appearances over three seasons. He never surpassed Orpheus Roye, Aaron Smith or Kevin Henry on the depth chart.
Traded: pick 44 (2nd) to Vikings
Received: pick 59 (2nd), pick 73 (3rd) & pick 163 (5th). Drafted Scott Shields & Joey Porter.
Hindsight: An instance where trading down provided big benefits. Porter is obviously on his way to the Hall of Honor. Shields initially appeared on the track to stardom, collecting 4 interceptions his rookie year, including one on his very first play. But by year three, he was out of the league. The 5th round pick Pittsburgh received was re-packaged in another trade that ultimately became Hank Poteat.
Traded: pick 50 (2nd) & pick 112 (4th) to Patriots
Received: pick 39 (2nd) and drafted Kendrell Bell
Hindsight: Bell became the Steelers first defensive rookie of the year since Jack Lambert. Although his career didn’t pan out as expected, this was still a great trade.
Traded: pick 44 (2nd) & pick 107 (4th) to Colts
Received: pick 38 (2nd) and drafted Ricardo Colclough
Hindsight: Colclough lasted 2 years and 3 games with Pittsburgh. He made one interception in a blowout win against Titans, but is probably more known for muffing a punt off his head in week 3 of 2006, which allowed the Bengals to snatch a comeback victory. Ricardo has to be considered one of Kevin Colbert’s least productive picks.
Traded: pick 64 (2nd) to Vikings
Received: pick 83 (3rd) & pick 95 (3rd). Drafted Anthony Smith & Willie Reid.
Hindsight: Smith started 14 games his first two seasons, filling in for an injured Ryan Clark, but he was never able to emerge as a full-time starter. In fact, he was benched for Tyrone Carter in 2007, then left after his first contract expired. Reid was definitely one of Colbert’s least productive picks. He landed on IR after one game in his rookie season. Then, he completely disappointed as a returner in year two, forcing Coach Tomlin to trade for Allen Rossum.
Traded: pick 64 (2nd) & pick 132 (4th) to Broncos
Received: pick 79 (3rd) & pick 84 (3rd). Drafted Kraig Urbik & Mike Wallace
Hindsight: Urbik had high expectations as one of the best offensive guard’s in his class. But he was inactive his rookie year, losing his helmet on game days to Ramon Foster. In his second camp, he failed to make the 53 and was picked up on waivers by Buffalo. He ended up having a productive career, but was a giant bust in Pittsburgh. Wallace had 4 very productive years in Pittsburgh, earning the team’s rookie of the year recognition in 2009 and a Pro Bowl invitation in 2011.
Traded: pick 83 in 2014 (3rd) to Browns
Received: pick 111 in 2013 (4th) and drafted Shamarko Thomas
Hindsight: Thomas was expected to be one of the toughest players of his draft class, maybe even an heir apparent to Troy Polamalu. He was emerging as a contributor his rookie season, but an injury in week 10 led to the signing of Will Allen. When Polamalu retired in 2015, it was Allen who earned the starting role. The following year, Robert Golden was named starter. Thomas was a big disappointment, considering the expectations.
Traded: Martavis Bryant to Raiders
Received: pick 79 (3rd).
THEN Traded: pick 79 (3rd) & pick 220 (7th) to Seahawks
Received: pick 76 (3rd) and drafted Mason Rudolph
Hindsight: Maybe Ben was right, and the Steelers should’ve looked for other offensive weapons with this pick. Mase’s time in Pittsburgh made quite the story, but probably not the tale he wanted to tell. Ultimately, he was benched for Duck in 2019, and tied the winless Lions in 2021. At least he earned a second contract.
Kyle Chrise is the host of the SCN podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” New episodes are released every Thursday. Next week will feature our “Mock the Mock” year-end recap.