List of Pittsburgh Steelers
first round draft picks Updated: May 2012
Pittsburgh Steelers first round draft picks, since 1969:
Sources: Pittsburgh Steelers media guide, nfl.com for picks; commentary © 6thring.com
2012 David DeCastro, G, Stanford (24) Highest-rated guard in the draft considered sure thing for team with worst pair of starting guards in NFL. Not a brute, but signature skill appears to be pulling in running game. A Pac-10/12 player with little contact with team pre-draft.
2011 Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (31) High-character, high-motor, reliable prospect from high-level program, had better rookie year than Ziggy Hood, figures to be team's best pass-rushing lineman since Aaron Smith's early seasons.
2010 Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida (1 Widely expected to be drafted by Steelers to play either guard (initially) or center (permanently), a hit upon arrival; ran incumbent center Justin Hartwig off the roster en route to Pro Bowl as 21-year-old; 2nd season solid but marred by injuries, some games of poor line play.
2009 Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT, Missouri (32) High motor, well-rounded college player brought in to address age of teams defensive ends, unable to start behind two incumbents, played well in spots in 2010 but non-factor in 2011.
2008 Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois (23) Worst pick of the Kevin Colbert era. Highly regarded RB prospect, surprisingly available at 23, tremendous cutting/acceleration skills, entered draft too early, somewhat aloof, not ideally physical enough for every-down NFL back, played best ball during 2010 season that helped team reach Super Bowl.
2007 Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State (15) Surprisingly drafted ahead of LaMarr Woodley; young, raw, quick-twitch player chosen for "run and hit" skills, struggled to get on field as a rookie, flashed limited game-breaking potential in Year 2. Ideally suited for passing downs, but something holds him back from stardom.
2006 Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State (25, after trade from 32) The pick, or trade-up, that delivered Super Bowl 43. Taken to replace Antwaan Randle El; played quality, if below-potential, football for two seasons, dominated the NFL in the latter half of 2008 season. Off-field incidents and concentration lapses prompted embarrassing trade to Jets in 2010..
2005 Heath Miller, TE, Virginia (30) Merger of need and best available athlete at 30, elite-level performer with big role in two titles.
2004 Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Miami (Ohio) (11) The modern pick on par with Joe Greene or Terry Bradshaw, one of NFL's greatest all-time quarterbacks.
2003 Troy Polamalu, S, USC (16, after trade from 27) A trade-up seeking to bolster a shattered secondary, contributed little as a rookie, major NFL impact player thereafter.
2002 Kendall Simmons, G, Auburn (30) Effective at tackle at Auburn, fine rookie season but never an elite talent, game declined after discovery of diabetic condition in Year 2.
2001 Casey Hampton, NT, Texas (19, after trade from 16) Shored up defensive line from Day 1, longtime starter, a 2-down player but one of NFL's most reliable nose tackles.
2000 Plaxico Burress, WR, Michigan State ( Poor rookie season, a significant NFL threat by Year 2, capable of dominating but not the most focused player, allowed to leave after quality five-year career.
1999 Troy Edwards, WR, Louisiana Tech (13) Massive reach for desperately needed WR, small and slow, but could run after catch impressively. Best season was rookie year, then eclipsed by Hines Ward.
1998 Alan Faneca, G, Louisiana State (26) Came out as junior, might've gone higher a year later, longtime linchpin of line and in the discussion for NFL Hall of Fame.
1997 Chad Scott, CB, Maryland (24) Total need pick for depleted CB corps on Super Bowl contender, impressed as a rookie, career interrupted in Year 2 by knee injury, an average starter for years but no impact player.
1996 Jamain Stephens, OT, North Carolina A&T (29) Perhaps the most famous bust in team history given round (first), size (6-7, 340 or so), small school. Barely got on the field, managed to last three years before cutting.
1995 Mark Bruener, TE, Washington (27) Instant reliability at TE as rookie during Super Bowl run, then receiving ability fell off a cliff. Lasted forever as a blocking TE.
1994 Charles Johnson, WR, Colorado (17) Draft day reach in an unimpressive year for receivers, not very big or fast, decent NFL receiver and occasional starter for several years.
1993 Deon Figures, CB, Colorado (23) Regarded as a bit slow on draft day, taken nonetheless, marginal pro career affected by 1994 shooting in California.
1992 Leon Searcy, OT, Miami (Fla.) (11) A year to get on the field, three years to impress, a free agent departure after suddenly hitting it big.
1991 Huey Richardson, LB, Florida (15) On the short list of team's biggest busts ever. Hybrid pass-rushing project so ineffective at OLB, was tested as an ILB/DE combo. Cut after one miserable year.
1990 Eric Green, TE, Liberty (21, after trade from 17) Physically, most gifted player ever for his position, enormous size, agility, and hands that caught ball like a softball; struggled with focus and off-field issues in dubious, at times impressive, Steelers career.
1989(a) Tim Worley, RB, Georgia (7); Big reach at No. 7; struggled with off-field issues and lacked strong football IQ, but briefly showed high-caliber NFL talent and helped team to playoff success in 1989.
1989(b) Tom Ricketts, OT, Pittsburgh (24) Size better suited to 1970s than 1990s; poorly skilled player for first round, probably never on the radar screen if he hadn't played for Pitt; a major bust from Day 1.
1988 Aaron Jones, DE, Eastern Kentucky (1 Fourth DL taken with first pick in decade, starter by default only, massive bust.
1987 Rod Woodson, CB, Purdue (10) Surprised to find him available at 10, very difficult to sign, legendary Hall of Fame performer.
1986 Jon Rienstra, G, Temple (9) Taken extremely high for a guard, struggled with pressures of the NFL, colossal bust.
1985 Darryl Sims, DE, Wisconsin (20) Another grasp at rebuilding the famous front four, one of the team's greatest-ever busts.
1984 Louis Lipps, WR, Southern Mississippi (23) Dazzling debut as a rookie WR and punt returner, fine career abruptly ran out of gas after about six years.
1983 Gabriel Rivera, NT-DE, Texas Tech (21) Drafted to be another Joe Greene with Dan Marino still on board. Slow start, played better after losing weight, then paralyzed in an auto accident.
1982 Walter Abercrombie, RB, Baylor (12) Never an impact player and never the successor to Franco Harris the team long sought. Played best football in 1984 playoffs and 1986 season.
1981 Keith Gary, DE, Oklahoma (17) Highly touted from Oklahoma as possible replacement for L.C. Greenwood, joined several NFL-caliber players in signing with Canada's Montreal Alouettes, failed first physical there, blaming nerves. Played two seasons in Canada, returned to NFL and finally signed with Steelers, had six-year career as marginal player.
1980 Mark Malone, QB, Arizona State (2 Project probably best-suited for WR; could do a bit of everything fairly well, throw, run, catch, but none of them well enough to be permanent NFL starter.
1979 Greg Hawthorne, RB, Baylor (2 Massive project, great build and combine measurables, likely ran "too upright" for an NFL halfback, virtually no production in Pittsburgh, hung around NFL a few years as a tight end.
1978 Ron Johnson, CB, Eastern Michigan (22) Effective rookie starter for a Super Bowl team but unable to sustain a lengthy career.
1977 Robin Cole, LB, New Mexico (21) Quiet, sturdy, effective defender who flew under the radar of the team's legendary linebackers.
1976 Bennie Cunningham, TE, Clemson (2 Popular, quality TE who was more complementary player than impact player.
1975 Dave Brown, DB, Michigan (26) Did not win starting job as rookie, taken by Seattle in 1976 expansion draft, enjoyed long career as very popular player for Seahawks.
1974 Lynn Swann, WR, USC (21) First WR taken in 1974, thought by some a bit slow for first round, perhaps the NFL's most spectacular pass-catcher of all time.
1973 J.T. Thomas, CB, Florida State (24) Drafted to unseat John Rowser at starting CB, started slowly, gradually became starter, quality career as defensive back.
1972 Franco Harris, RB, Penn State (13) Unofficial NFL MVP of 1970s. Said to be the choice over Robert Newhouse of Houston, first running back taken that year, legendary pick and player possibly the most effective NFL running back of all time..
1971 Frank Lewis, WR, Grambling ( Quality receiver but not particularly aggressive, speed demon, saved best football for years in Buffalo, 1977 trade (for Paul Seymour) a bust for Steelers, long NFL career
1970 Terry Bradshaw, QB, Louisiana Tech (1) Pick won in a coin flip, one of NFL's greatest prospects, and greatest players, ever.
1969 Joe Greene, DT, North Texas State (4) One of the NFL's greatest players, cornerstone of the modern franchise.