The Pittsburgh Steelers have had many great players in their history. When looking specifically at draft picks, there are many who have made a huge impact on the team. Some of those players, although selected in various rounds, were not picks of the Pittsburgh Steelers but we’re acquired either by trade or through free agency.
After looking at the best players to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers as first-round draft picks that were selected by another franchise, it was requested to keep going into other rounds. For this reason, it’s time to now look at the third round. The following are the top five players since the 1970 merger based on their time with Pittsburgh even though they were a third-round pick of another team. Rather than rely completely on my own personal opinion, I took into consideration Pro Football Reference’s approximate value (AV) along Super Bowl victories from their time with the Steelers. (Note: None of the players were selected to the Pro Bowl or All-Pro.)
If the second-round list wasn’t very inspiring, the third rounders are even less exciting. But in a bit of foreshadowing, the list gets better in round four. For reference sake, both Mason Cole and Larry Ogunjobi finished just off the list after a single season in Pittsburgh.
5. Keyaron Fox
Draft: Pick 93 in 2004 (Kansas City Chiefs)
Years with Steelers: 2008-2010
Super Bowls: 1
Drafted by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft, Keyaron Fox only had four starts in four seasons before landing in Pittsburgh in 2008. Although he appeared in 45 games over three seasons, Fox only had three starts with the Steelers and was primarily a special teams player. During his time in Pittsburgh, Fox had 84 tackles, five fumble recoveries, three passes defensed, and one interception returned 82 yards for a touchdown. But I enjoy bringing up Fox any chance I get as a reminder that he started the chain reaction which ended with a different Pro Bowl selection in 2018.
4. Duce Staley
Draft: Pick 71 in 1997 (Philadelphia Eagles)
Years with Steelers: 2004-2006
Super Bowls: 1
Although he spent three seasons in Pittsburgh, running back Duce Stanley only appeared in 16 total regular season games. Starting all 10 of the games in which he appeared in 2004, Staley had 830 rushing yards on 192 attempts and one touchdown along with six receptions for 55 yards as most of the goal-line carries were given to Jerome Bettis. In 2005 Staley only appeared in five games with one start were he had 38 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown as well as six receptions for 34 yards. Playing only one snap in Week 1 of 2006, Stanley was inactive the rest of the season until his release in December.
3. Chris Wormley
Draft: Pick 74 in 2017 (Baltimore Ravens)
Years with Steelers: 2020-2022
Super Bowls: 0
After three seasons in Baltimore, the Steelers made the unusual inter-division trade where they acquired Chris Wormley as the teams exchanged a fifth for a seventh-round pick. In three seasons with the Steelers, Wormley appeared in 41 games with 16 stars, 14 of which came in 2021. In his three seasons, Wormley had 88 tackles with 10 coming for loss and 8.5 sacks along with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and three passes defensed. Unfortunately, Wormley suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 17 of 2022 and is still a free agent.
2. Steven Nelson
Draft: Pick 98 in 2015 (Kansas City Chiefs)
Years with Steelers: 2019-2020
Super Bowls: 0
Signing the biggest free agent contract with the Steelers at that point, Steven Nelson joined the Steelers after his rookie deal expired following four years in Kansas City. Starting all 30 games in which he appeared, Nelson had 109 tackles and two fumble recoveries to go with 17 passes defensed and three interceptions over two seasons. But the final year of Nelson‘s contract was too much as the Steelers were up against the salary cap in 2021 due to the global pandemic and Nelson was released as a cap casualty.
1. John Rowser
Draft: Pick 78 in 1967 (Green Bay Packer)
Years with Steelers: 1970-1973
Super Bowls: 0 (with Steelers)
Traded to the Steelers ahead of the 1970 season for tight end John Hilton, John Rowser played four seasons in Pittsburgh from 1970 to 1973. Unfortunately, he just missed out on the Steelers Super Bowl seasons but was the starting cornerback in both the Steelers playoff games in 1972 and the game in 1973. Appearing in 47 regular season games with 42 starts, Rowser had 17 interceptions with the Steelers with two returned for touchdowns.
Those are the top five players for the Steelers who were drafted in the third round of the NFL draft but were selected by another team and acquired later by Pittsburgh. So how does the list look? Were the players placed in the proper order? Was there anyone else who should have been on the list? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.