2010 NFL Draft: The Truth About Drafting the Best Available Player

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IMarch 10, 2010

PITTSBURGH - MAY 01:  First Round draft pick Ziggy Hood #96 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stretches during rookie training at the Pittsburgh Steelers Practice Facility on May 1, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is a widely known belief that the Pittsburgh Steelers draft the BEST AVAILABLE PLAYER, when it comes to their pick in the NFL Draft.

Everyone knows it. ESPN talks about it, and so do all the Pittsburgh area papers. It is the reason they drafted Rashard Mendenhall in the first round a couple years ago. It is the reason they have not drafted an offensive lineman in the first round in years.

I have even made many comments in many articles that simply says "BEST AVAILABLE PLAYER."

The thinking to this goes something like this: Whatever name is at the top of the Steelers draft board, when it comes time for them to draft, is the name that is written on the card and turned in on draft day.

But I think there is more to this than I, along with MANY others, have realized.

Let's take a look at the top 32 names in the NFL Draft. By most draft boards.

This is not the official draft board of any team, so don't anyone comment on how anyone should be higher or lower. It is an example.

1 - Ndamukong Suh , DT

2 - Sam Bradford, QB

3 - Gerald McCoy, DT

4 - Eric Berry, FS

5 - Russell Okung, OT

6 - CJ Spiller, RB

7 - Derrik Morgan, DE

8 - Bryan Bulaga, OT

9 - Joe Hayden, CB

10 - Trent Williams, OT

11 - Dez Bryant, WR

12 - Rolando McClain, ILB

13 - Taylor Mays, FS

14 - Jimmy Clausen, QB

15 - Brandon Graham, OLB

16 - Dan Williams, DT

17 - Mike Iupati, OG

18 - Jason Pierre-Paul, DE

19 - Earl Thomas, CB

20 - Everson Griffen, DE

21 - Sergio Kindle, OLB

22 - Ryan Matthews, RB

23 - Anthony Davis, OT

24 - Sean Weatherspoon, OLB

25 - Carlos Dunlap, DE

26 - Kyle Wilson, CB

27 - Golden Tate, WR

28 - Jerry Hughes, DE

29 - Brian Price, DT

30 - Devin McCourty, CB

31 - Charles Brown, OT

32 - Maurkice Pouncey, C

I am also quite sure that the Steelers draft board looks NOTHING like this.

For starters, take off every quarterback and tight end. The Steelers have NO need to draft anyone at either of those positions, so those players are immediately taken off the list.

With the signing of Antwaan Randle El, you can pretty much eliminate the possibility of any receiver to be taken in the first round, so cross them off as well.

My guess? The players that the Steelers would not even consider have been removed from the board. Take out the QB, WR, RB, and DE (they drafted one in the first round last year; they are not going to do it again).

1 - Ndamukong Suh , DT (Gone by their pick)

3 - Gerald McCoy, DT (Gone by their pick)

4 - Eric Berry, FS (Gone by their pick)

5 - Russell Okung, OT (Gone by their pick)

8 - Bryan Bulaga, OT (Gone by their pick)

9 - Joe Hayden, CB (Gone by their pick)

10 - Trent Williams, OT (Gone by their pick)

12 - Rolando McClain, ILB

13 - Taylor Mays, FS

16 - Dan Williams, DT

17 - Mike Iupati, OG

19 - Earl Thomas, CB

23 - Anthony Davis, OT

26 - Kyle Wilson, CB

29 - Brian Price, DT

30 - Devin McCourty, CB

31 - Charles Brown, OT

32 - Maurkice Pouncey, C

These are the most likely players that will be available when the Steelers draft. Now, if you take into account what the Steelers need, it changes just a little bit. Players no longer have their original number but instead one for where they will be rated on the Steelers' draft board.

1 - Rolando McClain, ILB

2 - Mike Iupati, OG

3 - Anthony Davis, OT

4 - Earl Thomas, CB

5 - Kyle Wilson, CB

6 - Taylor Mays, FS

7 - Dan Williams, DT

8 - Brian Price, DT

9 - Devin McCourty, CB

10 - Charles Brown, OT

11 - Maurkice Pouncey, C

This takes into account where the current players are rated and those of position of need have moved up the board over others.

So, when you hear that the Steelers are taking the best available player, or when they are drafting someone at a position of need, realize that it is a mix of both. They DO draft a player of need, but also the best one that is available to them.