It is very difficult, in the modern NFL, for any team to win multiple Super Bowl titles within a decade. The Pittsburgh Steelers did just that in the past ten years, and a big reason for the team’s continued success is because of multiple successful NFL Draft classes.
Since 2004, the Steelers drafted a franchise quarterback, one who could end up in the Hall of Fame by the time all is said and done. Pittsburgh also drafted a tight end who was, in his day, one of the best at the position in the league. The team picked up a few great wide receivers as well.
In short, the Steelers built a core that has allowed them to compete for at least a playoff spot just about every year. Follow along to find out who are the top 10 best draft picks made by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the last 10 years.
10. Mike Wallace – WR – 84th overall in 2009
Wallace spent only four seasons in Pittsburgh, and it’s been rumored that the Miami Dolphins are looking to trade him after he spent only one season with them. There is plenty negative that can be said about Wallace, but you can’t deny that he has had an impressive career for somebody who was passed over by every team in the league more than once.
Wallace had 32 receiving touchdowns as a member of the Steelers. He twice had over 1,100 receiving yards while in Pittsburgh. Wallace a the reputation for not being a great teammate, and thus he’s here and not higher on this list.
9. Maurkice Pouncey – C – 18th overall in 2010
A center taken in the first round of any draft had better evolve into one of the best at the position in the league. That’s exactly what Pittsburgh got in Pouncey. He was named to Pro Bowl teams in each of his first three seasons, and he was an All-Pro in 2011.
The only reasons Pouncey isn’t higher on this list is because he tore his ACL last year, and one cannot yet guarantee how he will play in the future. If he does return to form following the injury, he will once again be one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL.
8. Rashard Mendenhall – RB – 23rd overall in 2008
Mendenhall is a difficult player to rate for a couple of reasons. He joined the Arizona Cardinals after just five seasons with Pittsburgh, and he only appeared in six games for the Steelers in 2012. His rookie campaign was also lackluster.
Mendenhall, from 2009 through the end of the 2011 season, had 30 total touchdowns. He twice rushed for over 1,000 yards in that period, and he gained 928 yards on the ground in 2011. He won’t go down as an all-time great pick, but Mendenhall deserves to be mentioned here.
7. Santonio Holmes – WR – 25th overall in 2006
I can almost hear the snark in the voices of some Pittsburgh fans as they guffaw at the notion that Holmes should be even this high on the list. It is worth noting that he only played four seasons in Pittsburgh before jetting (see what I did there?) to New York to cash in on a big contract and play for Gang Green. Still, he put up pretty good numbers while with the Steelers.
He also happened to make one of the all-time great plays in the storied history of the club, one that helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XLIII. Holmes deserves a shout-out in this piece for that alone.
6. LaMarr Woodley – DE – 46th overall in 2007
Woodley hasn’t played a full 16-game regular season in the past three years. That’s one of the main reasons Pittsburgh let him go to Oakland where he signed a 2-year, $12 million deal for next season. Nevertheless, you can’t undersell how good he was while in his prime.
Woodley, over a period of three seasons, had 35 sacks. He has brought down quarterbacks 57 times over his pro career, and he had five sacks in what was his final campaign as a member of the Steelers. Woodley has also forced a fumble in all but one season since being drafted.
5. Lawrence Timmons – DE – 15th overall in 2007
Timmons didn’t become a full-time starting defensive player until 2009. He’s proven his worth and then some since then with 26 career sacks and 616 career tackles. Timmons is a lineup mainstay and probably the best defensive player on the Steelers’ roster today.
It is the belief of some that a team is in a tough spot when in the middle of the first round in any draft order. That side wasn’t bad enough to be in the top-ten, nor was it good enough to win anything of merit the prior year. Timmons serves as a reminder that you can grab an elite player in the 15-20 range of a draft if you do your homework.
4. Antonio Brown – WR – 195th overall in 2010
I went back and forth on where to place Brown. He had a monster 2013 for any wide receiver let alone for one taken in the sixth round of a draft. Brown has, on the other hand, really had only three good seasons.
In the end, I couldn’t ignore his production in 2013. Brown had 110 catches, 1,499 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season. He is in the tier of WRs right beneath Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green. As a sixth round selection, Brown is nothing shy of an absolute steal.
3. Heath Miller – TE – 30th overall in 2005
I have, in different pieces written for different websites, claimed that I believe that some overrate the former Virginia TE. That aside, he comes in so high on this list because of one thing: Consistency.
Miller has been a consistent weapon for his quarterback (who, as you probably guessed, will be mentioned later on in this piece) since year one. He caught six touchdowns as a rookie, and he’s found the end zone on 40 occasions in his NFL career. Even a serious knee injury couldn’t prevent him from having a solid 2013, although there are some out there who believe that his best days may have come to an end.
2. William Gay – CB – 170th overall in 2007
Gay gets a lot of criticism from the Pittsburgh fan base for a variety of reasons, such as the fact that he often struggles making what should be routine tackles. That’s fair, but look at what he has accomplished over the past seven seasons.
Gay has never once missed a regular season contest. He also was a top-ten cover corner in 2013. That’s not at all shabby for a guy who was taken in the fifth round. Pertaining to value alone, Gay could very well be placed atop this list.
1. Ben Roethlisberger – QB – 11th overall in 2004
I have to be honest and admit that I don’t recall watching Roethlisberger once take a snap while at Miami (Ohio). Big Ben has since had an unforgettable NFL career. He’s thrown for over 34,000 yards and has tossed 219 touchdowns.
Roethlisberger also possesses two Super Bowl rings.
He is the prototype of an ideal pocket passer. He’s big and strong enough to shrug pass rushers off, he stays in the pocket, and he’s accurate. Only a handful of all-time great QBs, players such as Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, have been better than Roethlisberger over the past decade. Big Ben will forever be one of the top draft picks in Pittsburgh history.