Best Late-Round Draft Picks for the Steelers Since 2000
This list spans from 2000 to present and encompasses only players selected from the fifth to the seventh rounds of the draft.
This article about the team's diamond-in-the-rough draft picks, so great undrafted players the Steelers have acquired will not be found in these slides.
5th round – LB Clark Haggans
Clark Haggans may not have be one of the most heralded Steelers 'backers in the 21st century, but he certainly represents some of the best value the Steelers found in their linebacking corps.
After being drafted, Haggans was didn’t become a major contributor until the team parted ways with Jason Gildon after the 2003 season.
Haggans helped the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory XL over the Seattle Seahawks and accumulated 32.5 sacks with the team before leaving in 2007.
7th round – DE Brett Keisel
Brett Keisel has become the poster child for late round picks, since the Steelers selected the defensive end in the seventh round of the 2002 draft.
Keisel became a full time starter when Kimo Von Oelhoffen left in free agency after the 2005 season and hasn’t relinquished that spot yet.
Although Keisel could be in his last year with the team, he has been the perfect 3-4 defensive end for the Steelers for his career.
Verron Haynes is probably the most unheralded name on my list because he was never a major contributor, but he was a nice complementary player for the Steelers.
Haynes wasn’t a feature back for the Steelers. However, for several seasons, he was the quintessential third-down back, spelling Jerome Bettis and Amos Zereoue.
As a runner, blocker and receiver, there wasn't much else the Steelers could have wanted from a fifth-round pick role player, especially considering the depth at the position the team already had on the roster.
6th round - G Chris Kemoeatu
I was one one of many who were concerned when Alan Faneca was let go after the 2007 season and the Steelers decided to go with Chris Kemoeatu as the starter.
Kemoeatu then ensued to start for the Steelers, until he was released in the 2012 offseason in favor of Willie Colon.
Although fans got a little tired of Kemoeatu towards the end of his career, you can’t really ask for more than getting a four-year starter out of a sixth-round pick.
5th round – CB William Gay
I was a big fan of William Gay when the Steelers drafted him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, although I did not think he was ready to start in 2009.
In my opinion, Gay was more of a slot corner and he struggled when becoming the full-time starter after the team let Bryant McFadden go in free agency.
Although I was pretty happy to see Gay go in the 2012 offseason, he made major contributions with 43 passes defensed in his five years in Pittsburgh. Overall, he was a nice pickup in the fifth round.
6th round – S Ryan Mundy
Ryan Mundy, like William Gay, has soured a bit in the latter part of his career with the Steelers and he could be allowed to walk as a free agent.
For most of Mundy’s career, however, I thought he was a very solid backup safety and a guy who could step in for an injured Ryan Clark or Troy Polamalu.
Even though I believe Mundy’s time in Pittsburgh is over now, any significant contributions from a sixth-round pick are a pleasant surprise.
7th round – TE David Johnson
David Johnson was in a competition with current FB Will Johnson for a roster spot last training camp and, unfortunately for David, he blew out his knee.
Now Will Johnson has a firm hold on that position and the only way I can see David coming back to the team is to compete for a backup TE spot with Leonard Pope and David Paulson, while Miller is recovering from his late-season injury.
In his career with the Steelers, David never really lived up to the potential we all thought he had in the passing game. However, he was an effective blocker and a nice find as a backup TE/H-back in the seventh round.
6th round – WR Antonio Brown
Although the Steelers are probably going to lose Mike Wallace to free agency this offseason, Antonio Brown's production is probably the deciding factor in the Steelers' relative confidence in parting ways with the speedster.
Brown became the first player in NFL history to record 1000 receiving and return yards in the same season in only his second year and the team gave him a five-year contract extension.
Like many Steelers in 2012, Brown had a somewhat disappointing year. However, he has a bright future and was a great pick by the team.
Time Will Tell
6 th round – RB Jonathan Dwyer
5th round – LB Stevenson Sylvester
5th round – LB Chris Carter
7th round – RB Baron Batch
7th round – OL Kelvin Beachum
7th round – TE David Paulson
For the rest of the 2010 draft, as well as the 2011 and 2012 draft, we really cannot say whether or not the Steelers got steals or not.
Jonathan Dwyer had a decent season in 2012, yet he is not guaranteed to be the starter in 2013, while Stevenson Sylvester has shown next-to-nothing outside of special teams duties at this point.
Chris Carter and Baron Batch have been injury-prone through their first two seasons with the team, so we will see if they are given a chance to develop with the team.
Kelvin Beachum and David Paulson both had surprisingly decent seasons for the Steelers, although such a small degree of success in limited action does not warrant the term "steal."