In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers had what is considered the greatest draft in the history of the NFL. Even teams that hate the Steelers are unable to dispute that claim.
The Steelers class of 1974 boasts a total of four players that are currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Between them, there was a total of 25 Pro Bowl apperences, and 22 All Pro nominations.
The Steelers Class of 1974 was the spring board to the Steelers Dynasty of the 70's. Ask any Steelers fan that was old enough to remember, the Steelers Draft Class of 1974 changed the game of football, forever.
So, who am I to compare the greatest draft class in the history of the sport to the Steelers Class of 2010? If you think about it, the Steelers class of 1974 was not thought to be great until they proved it on the field. Yes, the Class of 2010 has a LONG way to go until they prove they can even be in the conversation with 1974.
BUT, while looking at the similarities of these two classes, I felt the need to bring to the attention of Steelers Nation that it looks a lot similar than most people think.
In the fifth round of the 1974 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Mike Webster.
In the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Maurkice Pouncey.
Mike Webster was a staple for the Steelers from 1976 (when he became the starting center) until he left the Steelers following the 1988 season, when he finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Maurkice Pouncey was expected to start his career at Guard, and eventually work his way into the Center position. He played so well in training camp, that he did not need to start at Guard, and will start his rookie season as the Steelers Center.
Will Pouncey be as good as Webster? He doesn't have to be. For Pouncey to earn the starting position in his rookie season goes a long way towards showing that the Steelers believe in him, and he has a very legitimate shot at being the Steelers starting Center at least as long as Mike Webster was.
In both 1974 and 2010, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected an Outside Linebacker.
In 1974, it was Jack Lambert from Kent State, where he played Defensive End. Many scouts did not think that Lambert would make a successful transition to the NFL, because of his size. He was believed to be a late second or early third round pick
In 2010, it was Jason Worilds from Virginia Tech, where he played Defensive End. Many scouts were shocked that the Steelers selected Worilds so early in the draft, as he was graded to be an early third round pick.
Yes, Jack Lambert was drafted to play Outside Line Backer, it was when Henry Davis was injured, Lambert stepped in and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and the position was his after words.
As for Worilds, though he probably will not win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, he is playing behind two Pro Bowl OLB's, in LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, he will contribute on Special Teams.
Though, Worilds will not be asked to do as much as Lambert was, he still could become one of the best Line Backers in the NFL, imagine a faster LaMarr Woodley.
In the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Lynn Swann.
In the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Emmanuel Sanders.
Does anyone else find it a coincidence that both of these players wore/will be wearing 88?
When Lynn Swann Joined the Steelers, he was the flashy, cocky product of the USC Trojans. Swann came to the Steelers with a lot of glitz, but also had a TON of heart, and an amazing work ethic to go along with it.
Emmanuel Sanders was selected in the third round, and he comes to the Steelers with a TON of heart and an amazing work ethic to go along with it.
Swann was not a big man in size, at 5'11", 180 lbs.
Sanders is not a big man in size, at 5'11", 180 lbs.
Swann was known for his speed, as Sanders is. Swann was known for his toughness, as Sanders is.
Could Sanders be the next Lynn Swann? It is possible. In the pass happy NFL of 2010, Sanders could pass Swann's records.
In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected another receiver, but much later than Lynn Swann. John Stallworth was selected in the fourth round of the Draft out of Alabama A&M.
As the story goes, the Steelers scouts knew that Stallworth was a talent, and was worth more than a fourth round pick. The Steelers had traded their third round pick to move up in the second round to select Jack Lambert. Instead of sharing the game film of Stallworth with other teams, they lied, and said the tape was lost in shipping.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected another receiver, but much later than Emmanuel Sanders. Antonio Brown was selected in the sixth round of the Draft out of Central Michigan University.
John Stallworth is bigger than Antonio Brown. Stallworth played at 6'1" and 191lbs, while Brown is only 5'10, and 186lbs.
Although Stallworth was taken later in the Draft than Swann, he led the Steelers in Yards and Touch Downs until being passed by Hines Ward in both of those areas.
With Hines Ward and Mike Wallace at the top of the Steelers depth chart, Brown is not going to be asked to come in and be a game changer from day 1.
Brown does posses great speed, and will add to the Steelers in the return game, and other areas of Special Teams.
In the 12th Round of the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Hugh Lickiss. Line Backer. In the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Stevenson Sylvester.
Lickiss never became much of a football player in the NFL level, while Sylvester played well enough in the preseason to not only earn a roster spot, but to force the Steelers in keeping nine Line Backers on their 53 man roster.
Sylvester may not see a lot of playing time other than Special Teams his rookie season, he has shown that one day, he may have the talent to replace James Farrior in the middle of the Steelers defense.
In 1974, the Steelers spent two draft choices on the Running Back position. They drafted Tommy Reamon in the ninth round, and Dickey Morton in the 11th.
In 2010, the Steelers selected Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth round.
Reamon and Morton never had the chance to establish themselves with the Steelers playing behind Franco Harris and Rockey Bleier. Dwyer is behind Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redmon and Mewelde Moore.
During the final two games of the pre season, Dwyer showed the Steelers that he was too good to put on the practice squad, so there is a good chance that Dwyer will see more playing time than either Reamon or Morton did.
In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers used their seventh round selection on Allen Sitterle.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers used their fifth round selection on Chris Scott.
Chris Scott has started the season on the Steelers PUP list, and will be out for the first six games of the regular season.
The fact that the Steelers did not cut / Injury Settelment, Scott, or put him on the season ending Injured Reserve, means that they believe that Scott can help the team THIS season.
In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Dave Atkinson in the 10th round.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Crezdon Butler in the fifth round.
Butler is another young player that was kept on the active roster instead of being waived for the practice squad. He has shown that he has a natural talent for a defensive back, and could one day be a successful starter for the Steelers.
In the eighth round of the 1974 Draft, the Steelers selected Mark Geifert at Line Backer.
In the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Thaddeus Gibson at Line Backer.
Gibson was the second of three Line Backers that was drafted by the Steelers in 2010. The Steelers are known for their ability to draft, and groom Line Backers to be some of the best in the NFL.
If the Steelers are successful on two of these three players, this could be the future of the position.
As I stated earlier, the Steelers class of 1974 is the best Draft class in the history of the NFL. The odds of ALL of these players of the Class of 2010 being as successful as the 1974 class is astronomical. There would be a better chance of hitting the lottery, twice.
That does not change the fact that the Steelers, position wise, were VERY similar in their selections in 1974 as they were in 2010.
The real truth is, the class of 2010 has a LONG way to go to even be considered in the same league as the class of 1974.
Can they do it? Only time will tell, but this class has a fantastic shot at one day being, maybe the SECOND best draft class in the history of the Steelers.
And, from where I am sitting, that isn't too bad.