Pittsburgh Steelers' Early-Round Draft Picks Contributing to Abysmal Season

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent INovember 8, 2013

Pittsburgh Steelers' Early-Round Draft Picks Contributing to Abysmal Season

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for their great success in the draft, even though they routinely pick toward the bottom of the first round.

    Lately though, it’s their lack of hits in the early rounds that has really hampered the team and greatly contributed to disappointment we've see on the field this season.

    This article is written in complete hindsight, and I’ll point out players taken around the same time the Steelers chose in the draft who I personally liked or have had early success in their careers.

    It’s hard to single out a few picks as the reason the Steelers are in the shape they are in, yet we’d be having a much different conversation if these guys had panned out or would develop a little faster.

Mike Adams, OT

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the Second Round (56th Overall), 2012 Draft

     

    The Steelers doubled down on the offensive line with Mike Adams after taking David DeCastro in the first round of the 2012 draft.

    Though seen as a project when he was drafted, Adams impressed enough last season as a rookie and in camp this year to win the left tackle job.

    Unfortunately for Ben Roethlisberger, Adams was basically a revolving door and has since been benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum.

    It’s way too early to call Adams a bust, but you hope for more of an immediate impact from a second-round pick from a guy who was once thought to be in the first round discussion.

    Just for fun though, here are a few guys who went only a few picks later than Mike Adams in the draft:

     

    LaVonte David, LB (58th Overall)

    I loved the Vince Williams pick but LaVonte David is the type of player the team thought they would get in Sean Spence.

     

    Kelechi Osemele, G (60th Overall)

    Kelechi Osemele can play RT or G and brings the type of attitude the Steelers seem to lack for the most part on the offensive line.

     

    Casey Heyward, CB (62nd Overall)

    I guess if Casey Heyward was really drafted by the Steelers, we wouldn’t know how good he was anyway until they played him in fourth season anyway. The Steelers secondary would be in much better position with him right now though.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.

Marcus Gilbert, OT

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the Second Round (63rd Overall), 2011 Draft

     

    I applaud the Steelers for finally starting to take upgrading the offensive line seriously after drafting Maurkice Pouncey in 2010 and Marcus Gilbert in 2011.

    At the time, the team had Max Starks at left tackle, so I thought it was a great move to select a guy who could play right tackle while possibly developing into more.

    Gilbert went into camp in competition with Mike Adams for the job on the left side this season. He didn’t beat Adams, but he has seemed to settle in a bit at right tackle this season.

    With the failure of Adams on the left side, it’s kind of disappointing that they have so little faith in Gilbert over there that they wouldn’t even try him there.

    Even with Gilbert being serviceable right now, it’s not like you can say the Steelers have the right tackle spot locked down for years with him over there.

    Here are other players that were available:

     

    Justin Houston, OLB (70th Overall)

    With the Steelers struggling to put together a pass rush, wouldn't it be nice to have Houston coming off the edge?

     

    Demarco Murray, RB (71st Overall), Stevan Ridley, RB (73rd Overall)

    Having these two backs here has nothing to do with Le’Veon Bell, but maybe the Steelers wouldn't have needed to use a high pick on a running back in 2013 if they had hit here. Guys taken a few picks later in 2013 were wide receiver Aaron Dobson, inside linebacker Jon Bostic and inside linebacker Arthur Brown.

     

    Draft results from 2011 and 2013 from Mynfldraft.com.

Curtis Brown, CB

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the Third Round (95th Overall), 2011 Draft

     

    I really liked this pick by the Steelers and thought that Curtis Brown should have been taken in the second round.

    Corners normally develop very slowly in the Steelers defense, so it hasn’t been much of a surprise that he hasn’t played much on that side of the ball to this point.

    The problem is how bad he has looked when he has had to be out there on defense. Brown was considered a good special teams player, but now he’s not even active on game days anymore.

    Hopefully Brown takes a huge step forward next season, but the decision to let Keenan Lewis go just looks worse and worse now. With Ike Taylor and William Gay not getting any younger, the only other corner the team has is Cortez Allen.

    Here's an alternative:

     

    Jordan Cameron, TE (102nd Overall)

    Like I said, I don’t really blame the team for the pick of Curtis Brown, and there weren't many gems taken near this point. Jordan Cameron was the only real guy I could make an argument for, and the team could definitely use him instead of the 50 third-string tight ends on the roster right now.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.

Jason Worilds, OLB

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the Second Round (52nd Overall), 2010 Draft

     

    I normally try and see the bright side of every Steelers draft pick, yet I was especially perplexed by the pick of Jason Worilds in 2010.

    Worilds has actually been very solid for the Steelers this season, but this is probably his last year with the team, since he is a free agent after 2013.

    In my opinion, there were just so many good players still available, and I hadn't even heard of Worilds till his name was called as the pick:

     

    Sean Lee, ILB (55th Overall)

    Vince Williams was a great pick, and I’m rooting for Sean Spence, but wouldn't it be nice to actually have a position locked down?

     

    Terrence Cody, NT (57th Overall)

    Maybe Cody isn’t a force right now in his career; however, the Steelers could really use someone to plug up their run defense right now.

     

    Golden Tate, WR (60th Overall)

    I basically drove the Golden Tate fan bus at this time and I’d still take him over Worilds now.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.

Ziggy Hood, DE

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the First Round (32nd Overall), 2009 Draft

     

    The 2009 draft wasn’t exactly a hit for many teams in the first round, and I’ve been one of Ziggy Hood’s biggest supporters.

    I think Hood has been very solid for the Steelers, but I do agree that you want to get more out of a first-round pick.

    Now Hood has even lost his starting spot to Cameron Heyward, and he could continue to be a backup with Brett Keisel expected to be brought back for another season in 2014.

    Here were some alternative options:

     

    James Laurinaitis, ILB (35th Overall), Jairus Byrd, S (42nd Overall), LeSean McCoy, RB (53rd Overall)

    With so many busts in this draft, it was hard to find any guys to supplant Hood in the first round. I just went full into the second round to get a solid starter in James Laurinaitis and a playmaker in Jairus Byrd. Obviously, the steal of the top two rounds was definitely LeSean McCoy.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.

Kraig Urbik, G

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Selected in the Third Round (79th Overall), 2009 Draft

     

    As a change from the rest of the article, this isn’t a pick the Steelers missed on. This is a pick the Steelers missed by giving up on the guy too early.

    Kraig Urbik wasn’t given much of a chance with the Steelers and was gone after just one season.

    No one really complained too much at the time, but then Urbik surfaced with the Buffalo Bills and has actually played well.

    Urbik played so well that he earned a big contract from the Bills and left Steelers fans wondering what the coaching staff didn't see in just that one season.

    The Steelers actually struck gold in the third round in 2009 with Urbik, Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis all in one round.

    Unfortunately, none of these players are still with the team in 2013.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.

The Entire 2008 Draft Class

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s generally known that you can’t judge a draft class until five years down the road to give players time to develop.

    Well I think we all know by now that the 2008 draft was a complete and abject failure for the Steelers, with zero players remaining on the roster.

    I was one of those people who loved the promise the class had for the Steelers, with Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed seemingly dropping right into the teams lap. 

    The first three rounds went like this:

     

    Rashard Mendenhall — First Round (23rd Overall)

    Rashard gave the Steelers a few really good seasons as the starting running back but got injured and left when he got the opportunity this offseason.

     

    Limas Sweed — Secound Round (53rd Overall)

    Sweed had one good block in his career; however, he forgot that to play receiver you needed to actually catch passes.

     

    Bruce Davis — Third Round (88th Overall)

    Does anyone even really remember Bruce Davis was on the roster for one season?

     

    There were some other players the Steelers would've much rather selected in hindsight: 

     

    Brandon Flowers, CB (35th Overall), Ray Rice, RB (55th Overall), Matt Forte (44th Overall), Jamaal Charles, RB (73rd Overall)

    Just like I didn’t list the entire draft class, I only looked at players that were taken in the first three rounds in 2008. With Mendenhall not lasting as long as we all would have liked, it’s tough to see all of the top running backs that actually went in the second and third round.

     

    Draft results from Mynfldraft.com.