Bill Cowher was a firm believer in building a team through the draft. Aside from a few very notable free-agent pick-ups (Jerome Bettis and James Farrior, for example), Cowher constantly replenished talent through excellent drafting. Sure, he was also responsible for picks like Jamain Stephens and Alonzo Jackson, but we can't be perfect all the time, right?
With the draft upon us, here is a nostalgic view of what I believe would be the All-Cowher Team, if the team was made entirely of draft picks and undrafted free agents.
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger (2004, 1:11)
Roethlisberger is the only quarterback not named Terry Bradshaw to win a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh -- and he's done it twice.
Running Back: Willie Parker (UDFA)
Parker hardly saw the field at the University of North Carolina, but excelled as a pro. He would play several quality seasons in Pittsburgh before a broken leg derailed his career.
Fullback: Dan Kreider (2000, UDFA)
He didn't carry the ball often, but at 250 pounds, Kreider was a major force as a blocker under Cowher.
Wide Receiver (2): Hines Ward (1998, 3:92), Plaxico Burress (2000, 1:8)
Ward isn't just the best receiver Cowher drafted; he's one of the best to ever don the black and gold. He was a fantastic possession receiver who redefined a receiver's role in the run game.
Burress' career-best season was in 2002, when he caught 78 passes for 1,325 yards.
Tight End: Heath Miller (2005, 1:30)
Miller is the only tight end drafted in the first round by the Steelers since 1990, and it was a well-deserved honor. He has since become one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets.
Center: Chukky Okobi (2001, 5:146)
There wasn't a lot to choose from here, and Okobi was the best of a small bunch.
Guard (2): Alan Faneca (1998, 1:26), Kendall Simmons (2002, 1:30)
Alan Faneca was one of the two best guards in the NFL during his prime. He was athletic and excelled in both pass protection and run blocking.
Simmons cleared out the hole through which Parker ran en route to his 75-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XL, still the longest run in Super Bowl history.
Tackle (2): Marvel Smith (2000, 2:38), Max Starks (2004, 3:75)
Smith was exactly the guy you want: the guy whose name is never called on TV. He was a 2004 Pro Bowl selection.
Starks was a mediocre right tackle. He was a good, highly under-appreciated left tackle. Once he found his place, he stood out for his solid play.
Nose Tackle: Casey Hampton (2001, 1:19)
He didn't pile up statistics, but you always knew when 'Big Snack' was on the field. His accolades include five Pro Bowl selections, 2005 team co-MVP, and two consensus All-American selections in college.
Defensive End (2): Aaron Smith (1999, 4:109), Brett Keisel (2002, 7:242)
Once Keisel broke into the lineup, these two bookended the best defensive line in football for the better part of a decade. In that time, they ranked in the top five in total defense six straight years -- four of them at number one.
Outside Linebacker (2): James Harrison (UDFA), Joey Porter (1999, 3:73)
Harrison is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time All Pro selection (two First-Team, two Second-Team), a two-time team MVP and was selected by three different organizations as their 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
Porter was a strong player and motivator, and is now the team's Outside Linebackers Coach.
Inside Linebacker (2): Levon Kirkland (1992, 2:38), Chad Brown (1993, 2:44)
At 275 pounds, Kirkland was an absolute beast of an inside linebacker, and he played like it. He could also cover well despite his size. Brown, though smaller, played a very similar game to Kirkland. They had five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro selections between them, and Kirkland was a two-time team MVP.
EDIT: I overlooked these two somehow in the first draft. It was such a slap in the face to these two that I had to fix the list.
Cornerback: (2): Ike Taylor (2003, 4:125), Deshea Townsend (1998, 4:117)
Taylor was considered by many to be one of the few true, shutdown corners during his prime. Few passes were caught on his side of the field, because few were even thrown to his side.
Never the biggest, fastest or best, Townsend was a strong contributor anyway. His best year was 2004, when he had four sacks, four interceptions, a touchdown and a forced fumble.
Safety (2): Troy Polamalu (2003, 1:16), Darren Perry (1992, 3:94)
Polamalu is a future Hall of Famer. Period.
Perry had 32 interceptions as a Steeler, and a 1994 All-Pro selection.