The Steelers fabled 1974 Draft is regarded as the greatest draft in NFL history.
Pittsburgh's unsigned free agent class that off-season wasn't too shabby, either.
Along with drafting Hall-of-Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth along with Hall-of-Fame center Mike Webster and fellow Canton enshrine in linebacker Jack Lambert, Steelers coach Chuck Noll, sports writer and scout Bill Nunn, Art Rooney Jr. and the rest of the Steelers brass acquired safety Donnie Shell and tight end Randy Grossman as unrestricted free agents that off-season.
Prior to being signed by the Steelers, Grossman took a job in construction, and kept the job after he signed his contract in case he didn't make the Steelers squad. Grossman did make Pittsburgh's roster that summer, and the rookie out of Temple would go on to be apart of all four of the Steelers' Super Bowl champion teams during the decade of the 1970's. Grossman made several key plays in each of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl wins over the Cowboys, scoring the game's first touchdown in the Steelers 21-17 win in Super Bowl X and catching three key passes in Pittsburgh's 35-31 victory in Super Bowl XIII. 1978 was Grossman's finest season, as he caught 37 passes for 448 yards. In all, Grossman played eight seasons in Pittsburgh, playing in 133 total games and starting in 49 contests.
Also undrafted, Shell made the Steelers in '74 after enjoying a collegiate career at South Carolina State University that earned him a place in the Black College Football Hall-of-Fame. Nicknamed 'The Torpedo', Shell enjoyed one of the finest seasons in franchise history. Like Grossman, Shell was a member of all four Steelers Super Bowl teams in the 70's while playing for Pittsburgh from 1974-87. A five-time Pro Bowler and and three-time All-Pro, Shell is second only to Hall-of-Fame cornerback Mel Blount in Steelers' history with 51 career interceptions. Starting in 1977, Shell recorded at least three interceptions in a season in 10 consecutive seasons that included a six-year run of tallying at least five interceptions. Elected into the Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall-of-Fame in 2013, Shell's No. 31 has no longer issued by the Steelers.
While Stallworth, Swann, Webster, and Lambert each enjoyed Hall-of-Fame careers and were extremely instrumental in the Steelers success in the 70's, unsung heroes like Grossman and Shell also played key roles in ensuring Pittsburgh's dominance during that time. Hopefully, the Steelers can find rookie free agent gems this off-season that will make similar contributions to that of Grossman and Shell and help bring more Lombardi trophies to the Steel City.