6 Biggest Draft Mistakes in Pittsburgh Steelers History
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that prides itself on building through the draft successfully year after year. The Steelers are adept at finding hidden gems in late rounds and guessing right in early ones.
But mistakes happen and the Steelers, like every team, have made their fair share of them over the years.
Here's a look at the six biggest mistakes they've made.
6. Kordell Stewart
The Steelers drafted Stewart in the second round of the 1995 draft and he promptly became a rookie sensation famed for his ability to play virtually any offensive position. He was a spark plug on a team that went all the way to the Super Bowl.
The mistake was the belief that Stewart could play quarterback full time. He was drafted as a quarterback, but would have probably been a much more effective wide receiver or H-back.
Instead, he was installed behind center and was mediocre or worse—save for one season (2001).
Stewart isn't the worst pick they've ever had, and there was talent there, but it was misused due to Stewart's ego and the team's willingness to do what obviously wasn't going to work.
5. Troy Edwards
The Steelers picked Edwards in the first round of the 1999 draft and expected him to be the team's top receiver. Edwards proved to be nothing like what the team thought. He made mental mistakes often and couldn't operate well in an offense that didn't pass with the regularity we see today.
Edwards was an okay return man, but teams don't draft return men in the first round. They draft franchise receivers.
The Steelers gave up on Edwards after a few seasons and he moved on unsuccessfully to a few other squads before being shown the door for good.
4. Walter Abercrombie
The Steelers selected Abercrombie in the first round of the 1982 draft to replace the departed Franco Harris. The Steelers, with an offense predicated on the ability to run the ball, needed Abercrombie, who seemed a lock to be a good NFL starter.
Unfortunately, they swung and missed. Abercrombie couldn't imitate the success of Harris and became injury prone and ineffective quickly. Although he put together some acceptable seasons, he was never a true feature back.
Abercrombie was one of the team's first early-round misses in years, but he would inaugurate a string of marginal first-round choices.
3. Jamain Stephens
In the first round of the 1996 draft, the Steelers took Stephens out of a small school and while admitted he would need work before he could step into a job with the team. That's not what you want to hear about first-round choices.
Things took a bigger turn for the worse when he showed up out of shape in camp and collapsed on the first day of workouts. Later that day, he was sent packing.
When a player is cut on the first day of his first NFL camp, there's nowhere he can end up but near the top of a bust list. Stephens never had much of a career to speak of and was gone from the league within a few seasons.
2. Tim Worley
Twice in one decade the Steelers whiffed badly on running backs in the first round. This one came in 1989. Worley was expected to be the team's starting running back and to carry the offense.
He couldn't even carry a football.
He was more fumble prone than almost any back in the league and then got into trouble with drugs. Without any major injury concerns in his career, he enjoyed a brief tenure in Pittsburgh before the team distanced itself from him.
Worley ranks as one of the worst running backs in the league's long history and certainly at the bottom of any list of Steelers backs.
1. Huey Richardson
In Chuck Noll's last draft as a head coach, the team selected Richardson, a linebacker who was expected to be a force on the Pittsburgh defense as they headed into the 1990s. The 1991 first-rounder never lived up to that lofty expectation.
He played in five games his rookie season and was awful. After the season was over, Noll retired and Richardson was cut loose.
My pick for worst draft choice in team history? This guy.