The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away. The last few offseasons, we dove into a Steelers NFL draft class starting with the 2004 NFL Draft and outlined a successive draft each week. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers was highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. Each year was outlined with the last three draft classes all combined into one since a large number of the players were still with the team.
Since it worked the last two seasons, and since a lot of the research has already been done, let’s look back at they players from these drafts yet again, this time looking at two different years, on separate days, each week leading up to the last week of April. The last two years started with 2004 because Ben Roethlisberger had played the previous year. With Big Ben now retired, we’ll start with the 2011 draft since Cam Heyward is the oldest drafted player on the Steelers from 2022. For players no longer in the league, a lot of the information will be the same while others will be updated where needed.
Part 3 of 10 will highlight the Steelers 2013 NFL draft where the Steelers just have now played two seasons without any of their selections.
So let’s take a look at the nine players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2013 NFL draft:
When listing former Steelers first round draft picks, Jarvis Jones is one of those names that generally make fans cringe. Appearing in 50 regular season games with 35 starts in four seasons, Jones did not live up to expectations. With only 6.0 regular-season career sacks with one additional in the postseason, the production never really took off for Jones in the NFL. With two career interceptions, nine passes defense, four forced fumbles, and 130 tackles, the Steelers did not pick up Jones’ fifth-year option. By the Steelers 10th game of 2016, Jones had been replaced in the starting lineup by James Harrison. After four seasons in Pittsburgh, Jones signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 but was released prior to the season with an injury settlement.
Running back, Michigan St.
In a rare move for the Steelers, running back Le’Veon Bell was penciled in as the starter right away coming out of the 2013 draft. Missing the first three games of the season due to injury his rookie season, Bell still rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns his first year. In five years in Pittsburgh, Bell was named to the Pro Bowl three seasons (2014, 2016 and 2017) as well as All-Pro twice (2014 and 2017). After seeing a league-leading 406 touches in 15 games while playing on the franchise tag in 2017, Bell sat out the 2018 season rather than play under the franchise tag again. After an underwhelming 2019 with the New York Jets, Bell only appeared in two games in New York in 2020 before his release where he signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs. With only 328 rushing yards between his two teams in 2020, Bell did not even reach his season rushing totals with the Steelers from 2015 when he only appeared in six games due to suspension and injury. In 2021, Bell joined the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad prior to Week 1 and was called up for two games before being moved to the active roster prior to Week 7. Bell was released following Week 10 after gaining 83 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns in five games. Bell then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to Week 15 of 2021 but was released before their Divisional Round playoff game. A free agent, Bell st out of 2022 to pursue a boxing career. In an exhibition fight in September, Bell defeated Adrian Peterson by a fifth-round TKO.
Wide receiver, Oregon St.
After a quiet rookie season, Markus Wheaton appeared to be a player on the rise for the Steelers. With 644 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2014 followed by 749 yards and five receiving touchdowns in 2015, Wheaton only appeared in three games his final year in Pittsburgh as he finished the season on injured reserve with only four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. Signing with the Chicago Bears, Wheaton only had three receptions on 17 targets in Chicago. After signing with the Philadelphia Eagles the following year, Wheaton was released following Week 1 of the 2018 season and retired in January of 2019.
Defensive back, Syracuse
Trading a 2014 third-round pick to gain an additional pick in 2013, Shamarko Thomas was initially believed to be the Steelers next strong safety after Troy Polamalu. After learning in a reserve role and playing special teams for two years, Thomas failed to earn the starting job in 2015 following Polamalu‘s retirement. Nothing more than a special teams player, Thomas only started two games and Pittsburgh which were both in his rookie season. Signing with the New York Jets at the conclusion of his rookie deal, Thomas did not make the team in 2017 but landed with the Buffalo Bills. Trying to catch on in Indianapolis for 2018, Thomas only lasted a few weeks during training camp before being released and signed by the Denver Broncos. Appearing in six games as he was on and off the roster in Denver, Thomas did not make the team for 2019 and signed up to play in the XFL in the spring of 2020. After being traded from the New York Guardians to the DC Defenders, Thomas did not break back into the NFL once the XFL suspended operations. Thomas was signed by the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL in April of 2021 but was placed on the suspended list in July and Thomas has not played professional football since.
Just the mention of the name Landry Jones brings a variety of emotions from Steelers fans. While some feared he was being looked at as the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, this was never the case as Jones was merely a back up with the Steelers for three seasons after spending two years as the number three quarterback. With an overall record of 3-2 as a starter, Jones had eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in the three seasons where he saw playing time. Surprisingly, Jones was released following training camp in 2018 as the Steelers went with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs to fill out the quarterback depth chart. Jones landed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for less than a month in 2018 and spent part of the next offseason with the Oakland Raiders in 2019. Jones ended up being the first player to sign with the XFL, which actually kept him from re-joining the Steelers in 2019 after Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury. Jones went 2-2 in four starts with the Dallas Renegades and threw five touchdowns to eight interceptions before the league folded. Unlike other players from the XFL, Jones was not picked up by any NFL teams. When the XFL resumed operations for the 2023 season, Jones opted not to return.
Defensive back, Illinois
Failing to make the Steelers 53-man roster as a rookie, Hawthorne was not considered for the practice squad either. In 2016, Hawthorne landed with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL where he played in 2016. Hawthorne has since got into coaching as he is currently the cornerbacks coach for Southern Illinois.
Wide receiver, Oklahoma
Making the practice squad his rookie season, Brown landed on the Steelers active roster his second season and appeared in eight games where he had 12 receptions for 94 yards. Waived by the Steelers at the end of 2014, Brown was claimed by the Buffalo Bills. Brown was waived/injured during training camp and reached an injury settlement with Buffalo in 2015. Two years later, Brown signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL where he presently plays.
Linebacker, Florida St.
The longest standing member of the Steelers 2013 draft class, Vince Williams played eight seasons in Pittsburgh as a sixth-round compensatory draft pick. Thrust into the starting lineup due to the injury of Larry Foote his rookie season, Williams did not return as a regular starter until 2017. Over his career, Williams started 69 regular season games along with two postseason contests. Williams finished his run with the Steelers with 20.5 sacks, 479 tackles, two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, six fumble recoveries, 50 tackles for loss, and 45 quarterback hits. Williams was released by the Steelers in March of the 2021 offseason as a salary cap casualty, but was re-signed a month later to a smaller contract. Just before training camp, Williams announced he was retiring from the NFL rather than play the 2021 season.
Defensive tackle, Samford
Missing his entire rookie season on the Reserve/Injured List, Nick Williams found himself on the Steelers practice squad to start 2014. Poached later in the season by the Kansas City Chiefs, Williams spent all of 2015 and part of 2016 with the Chiefs before being released after five games. Picked up by the Miami Dolphins off of waivers, Williams failed to make the team in 2017. After year out of football, Williams spent two seasons with the Chicago Bears where he started five games in 2019 and had 6.0 sacks and nine quarterback hits. Williams signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Detroit Lions for the 2020 season where he started 13 games. In 2021, Williams started all 17 games for the Lions and played 55% of their defensive snaps. Williams signed with the New York Giants where he appeared in eight games with seven starts before landing on IR with a bicep injury. At this time, Williams is a free agent for 2023.