During the first three-plus decades of their existence, the Pittsburgh Steelers were notoriously bad at this risky venture known as the NFL Draft.
From 1936 to 1968 only three of the Steelers first-round selections—Byron "Whizzer" White in 1938, Bill Dudley in 1942, and Len Dawson in 1957—ever accomplished anything of note in the NFL, and Dawson strutted his stuff with Kansas City, not Pittsburgh.
Then in 1969 some guy named Chuck Noll was hired and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since that time the franchise has gone on to win numerous division titles, seven conference titles, and an NFL-record six Lombardi Trophies.
A big key to all this success has been the draft.
With the NFL Draft fast approaching, I decided to pay homage to Sixburgh and the Steeler Nation by giving you my top six drafts of all time in franchise history.
The 1998 draft featured two future Hall of Famers, a solid corner, and a bruising fullback.
Guard Alan Faneca was taken in the first round and WR Hines Ward was a third-round steal.
Faneca has been to nine Pro Bowls and is the best guard of his generation, while Ward has broken every receiving record in franchise history. Both will have their busts in Canton someday.
Deshea Townsend, who's had a very decent career, was taken in the fourth round, and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala was a nice bargain in round six.
Chuck Noll and company hit another grand slam with this draft, picking up Hall of Fame corner Rod Woodson, and two linebackers who would go on to make 10 Pro Bowl appearances between them.
Woodson, a sure fire star from the get-go, was taken in the first round, but the later rounds proved to be kind to Pittsburgh as well.
LB Hardy Nickerson was a fifth-round selection; while LB Greg Lloyd, out of little Fort Valley State, was a sixth round steal.
Rounding out this excellent draft was future starters Thomas Everett (fourth round), Tim Johnson (sixth round), and Merril Hoge (10th round).
This draft was headed by Hall of Fame LB Jack Ham, who Noll grabbed in the second round.
But there was a lot more to this draft than just Ham.
DE Dwight White (fourth round) and DT Ernie Holmes (eighth round)—two members of the famed "Steel Curtain" were found in this draft
In addition, guard Gerry Mullins (fourth round), tackle Larry Brown (fifth round), and Safety Mike Wagner (11th round), became starters. Wagner was a two-time All-Pro selection.
The first round pick was WR Frank Lewis, who ended up being an All-Pro with Buffalo in 1974.
Most of Noll's picks in the 1970 draft didn't pan out, but the ones that did make this the third best draft in Steelers history.
Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw was a cocky, southern boy from Louisiana that Noll made the first overall selection in the draft.
After a slow start and plenty of boos from the tough Pittsburgh crowd, Bradshaw led the Steelers to four world championships in a six year span, winning Super Bowl MVP honors twice.
In the third round, Pittsburgh selected future Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount out of Southern University.
Blount became a starter in 1972 and was a fixture in the Steelers secondary, going to five Pro Bowls and being chosen for the NFL All-time Team.
WR Ron Shanklin was taken in the second round and was an All-Pro in 1973.
This was the draft that started it all for coach Chuck Noll and the Steeler dynasty in the 1970s.
Noll was just beginning his tenure as Pittsburgh's coach and came away with one of the best drafts in NFL history.
In the first round, the Steelers chose DT "Mean Joe" Greene out of North Texas.
The Hall of Famer and NFL All-Time Team member changed the culture and history of losing that symbolized the Steelers teams of the past.
Greene brought the attitude, aggression, and leadership Noll needed to turn the franchise around. Together they remade the franchise, the city and the people who came to be known as the Steeler nation, into winners.
This draft wasn't all Greene though.
In the third round, guard Jon Kolb, a stalwart of the dynasty, was drafted. DE L.C. Greenwood, a six-time All-Pro and member of the famed "Steel Curtain," was taken in the sixth round.
Terry Hanratty, a capable quarterback, was chosen in the second round.
There isn't an adjective that can do this draft justice.
It is simply the greatest draft, by any team, in the history of professional football.
It's hard enough for an organization to draft a Hall of Fame player once every decade. Try drafting four in the same year!
That's exactly what Chuck Knoll and the Pittsburgh Steelers did.
The first round saw USC receiver Lynn Swann join the fold.
Noll was just getting started.
The second round brought LB Jack Lambert, one of the meanest, nastiest, players in NFL history, to the Black and Gold.
In the fourth round, Swann's running mate, John Stallworth, was taken. That was followed by one of the biggest draft steals in history when center Mike Webster was grabbed in the fifth round.
Four Hall of Famers in one draft—amazing!
Is it any wonder the Steelers captured their first Super Bowl crown in that same 1974 season?