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Steelers Fantasy Island: Redrafting 2000-2004

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Have you ever wanted to change history? BTSC attempts to do so in a fantasy redraft. Part Six revisits Y2K-Y2K4.

Super Bowl XLV Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We continue once again with the latest installment of BTSC's redrafting of the first two rounds of the drafts occurring between between 1975 and 2015. This time around we turn back the clock to the big drafts of the half-decade that welcomed a big receiver, big hair, "the Big Snack" and "Big Ben".

But first, we need to review the guidelines with the following disclaimer that still isn't that effective.

I realize that any changes would possibly alter the Steelers entirely and that the Steelers that we know today could look altogether different. Remember that this is merely an essay on what other possibilities existed. I only chose players drafted within 15 picks of the Steelers actual choice. I only included the first two rounds of each draft from 1975-2015. Remember to have fun as we drift into fantasy and destroy the space-time continuum altogether.

Now indulge me as I figuratively don a white leisure-suit and meet you on the tarmac and welcome you all to Steelers Fantasy Island as we harken back to the drafts of 2000-2004.

2000

Round 1 Pick 8

Actual Pick: WR Plaxico Burress-Michigan State

Re-Pick: No Change

The 6'5" Plaxico was the big man the Steelers needed at receiver, but despite good numbers, he was viewed as immature and even lazy by some critics. With Hines Ward established as the top guy, Plaxico was a second banana of sorts. In his initial five-year career as a Steeler, Burress collected 261 catches for 4,164 yards and 22 scores. His best season was 2002 when he pulled in 78 balls for 1,325 yards and seven TDs. He left before the '05 season for the Giants, where he played four seasons and added another 3,681 yards and 33 TDs. In New York, Burresss won a Super Bowl, but gun charges led him to prison for shooting himself in the leg at a NY night club. Upon his return to the NFL in 2011, Plaxico spent a season with the Jets where he had 8 TDs and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. In 2012, Burress returned to Pittsburgh in late November and scored once in limited action. In 2013, "Plex" tore his rotator cuff in camp and ended up on IR, ending his career.

Probably should have gone Brian Urlacher here. Shaun Alexander, John Abraham. Chad Pennington and Shaun Ellis were also available in the next 15 slots, but Burress, although not a career Steeler, remains the pick here.

Round 2 Pick 38

Actual Pick: OT Marvel Smith-Arizona State

Re-Pick: No Change

Smith spent six of his nine years in Pittsburgh protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side. Marvel was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and won two Super Bowl rings in '05 and '08.

2001

Round 1 Pick 19

Actual Pick: NT Casey Hampton-Texas

Re-Pick: No Change

Although not the most glamorous pick at the time, the selection of the big Longhorn from Texas fortified the front seven for over a decade. The 5x Pro Bowler clogged running lanes and occupied double teams for twelve seasons as a Steeler. The man known as "the Big Snack" is regarded as one of the finest NTs in Steeler lore.

Round 2 Pick 39

Actual Pick: LB Kendrell Bell-Georgia

Re-Pick: OT Matt Light-Purdue (Round 2 Pick 48)

With nine sacks and a Pro Bowl selection, Bell was on track to be a superstar. However, knee ailments completely derailed his career. The 2001 AP Defensive and Steeler Rookie of the Year had nine more sacks the next two seasons combined and 99 tackles in 2003 before the ILB injured his knee again and missed most of the 2004 campaign. The Steelers released Bell before the Super Bowl XL season of 2005. He went on to play two years in KC, but his knee kept him from returning to his early glory.

Bell was an excellent pick and warranted the picks surrendered to trade up and get him, but his short tenure has us reversing this pick. In 11 NFL seasons, Matt Light started and protected Tom Brady's blind side for 153 games and three Super Bowl victories. A 3x Pro Bowler and 1x All Pro, Light is a member of the Patriots 200s All-Decade Team and their 50th Anniversary Team.

2002

Round 1 Pick 29

Actual Pick: G Kendall Simmons-Auburn

Re-Pick: No Change

Kendall Simmons started in 83 games and earned two rings during his hard-luck, seven seasons in Pittsburgh. His rookie season, Simmons won the Joe Greene Performance Award for top rookie. Before the 2003 season, No. 73 was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and missed the entire 2004 season due to injury. In 2005, the big RG started the entire slate of regular season and postseason games during the 2005 Super Bowl run. He retired after the 2008 campaign in which he missed most of the Super Bowl XLIII year due to an Achilles tear. He was released the following offseason.

Round 2 Pick 62

Actual Pick: WR Antwan Randle-El-Indiana

Re-Pick: No Change

Antwan Randle-El was a versatile weapon for the Steelers, who served two tours of football in Pittsburgh from 2002-2005 and 2010. The former QB/WR at Indiana was a trick-play master for the Steelers, whose most memorable moment came in Super Bowl XL with his scoring pass to Hines Ward, becoming the first receiver ever to throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. Antwaan was a superb returner who ran back four punts and a kick for TDs for the Steelers. No. 82 scored seven receiving TDs, had 2,265 yards on 284 catches and threw five TD passes in Pittsburgh. After Super Bowl XL, Randle El chased the big money and spent four seasons in Washington. He returned to Pittsburgh for a final season and played with them in Super Bowl XLV.

2003

Round 1 Pick 16

Actual Pick: S Troy Polamalu-USC

Re-Pick: No Change

The Steelers were set to go after either PSU RB Larry Johnson or were hoping that Polamau would fall to him at 27. Knowing full well that the defensive standout from USC would never fall that far, the Steelers sent a first, a third and a sixth to Kansas City to nab Polamalu. It was a pretty good deal considering that in 12 seasons, Troy was a 5x All Pro, 8x Pro Bowler, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, the Steelers All-Time Team and a 2x Super Bowl champion. A soft-spoken man but a deveststing hitter, No. 43 had 770 tackles, 12 sacks,14 forced fumbles and 32 interceptions. A fan favorite, Polamalu is likely to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Round 2 Pick 59

Actual Pick: LB Alonzo Jackson-Florida

State

Re-Pick: LB Lance Briggs-Arizona (Round 3 Pick 68)

While Troy hit big, Jackson was on the spectrum's opposite side. In parts of two Steeler seasons, Alonzo played in only nine games in two years for the Steelers and made eight tackles in his tenure with the team. Drafted as the heir-apparent to Jason Gildon, the FSU-product looked amazing in both preseasons, but couldn't do much of anything in games that counted. Jackson was released in the preseason of 2004.

A 7x Pro Bowler and 3x All Pro, Briggs would have been a much better selection at linebacker for Pittsburgh. For 12 seasons in the Windy City, Briggs had 1,173 tackles, 15 sacks and 16 picks and 19 forced fumbles for the Bears.

2004

Round 1 Pick 11

Actual Pick: QB Ben Roethlisberger-Miami (Ohio)

Re-Pick: No change

Ben Roethlisberger was a gift from the football heavens and the mob family known as the Mannings. Archie's proclamation that his son would not play for San Diego (who owned the number one pick and thought they needed a QB better than Drew Brees) led the Chargers to trade him to another QB-needy team, the Giants. New York who was linked mightily to Roethlisberger, selected Phillip Rivers because SD was not as high on Ben (they likened him to the mishap that was Ryan Leaf). This led the Miami of Ohio junior to inexplicably fall all the way past Cleveland and to the Steelers at #11. The rest is history. You know his resume'.

Round 2 Pick 38

Actual Pick: CB Ricardo Coloclough-Tusculum

Re-Pick: SS Bob Sanders-Iowa (Round 2 Pick 44)

The Steelers traded a second and a fourth to the Colts to move up and get the small-school superstar in the 2004 draft. Colclough was solid as a backup and special teamer his first two years, but a game-costing, special teams mishap in Week 3 of 2006 started his downhill slide in the 'Burgh. Ricardo returned 49 kicks for an average of 21.7 YPR. With only one start in his 36 games in Pittsburgh, Ricardo had one pick, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He played seven more NFL games in KC and then spent the rest of his pro career in the UFL and in Canada until 2013.

A better option would have been not trading and selecting Sanders at the same spot they swapped with Indy. The hard-hitting DB spent eight years in the NFL and had 303 tackles and six interceptions in eight seasons with the Colts and one more with the Chargers. The 2x Pro Bowler and All Pro was a Super Bowl champ in 2006 and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.

Don't forget to return for Part Seven of SFI and 2005-2009.