2011 NFL Draft Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers and the 31st Selection

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent IApril 12, 2011

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 19:  Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers speaks during a press conference following practice on April 19, 2010 at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The end goal of an NFL team is winning a championship and this year, the Pittsburgh came up just short. As a result, they will have the 31st pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Over the past 10 years, the 31st pick has brought team a mix of results.

There have been great players taken at the end of the first round such as Todd Heap (2001), Nnamdi Asomugha (2003), as well as quality starters such as Mike Patterson (2005) Greg Olsen (2007).

Robert Thomas (2002) had 50 starts and played for three teams through 2008 and Kelly Jennings (2006) has 44 starts for the Seattle Seahawks. While neither starred, both had the opportunity as starters.

The only bust to this point has been Rashaun Woods (2004). He only had seven receptions for San Francisco as a rookie before going on the injured reserve in his second year. After bouncing around to a couple of teams, Woods found himself out of the league.

More recent picks Kenny Phillips (2008), Beanie Wells (2009) and Jerry Hughes (2010) have had mixed results.

Phillips spent time injured in his second year, but established himself as a starter in the New York Giants defensive backfield this past season and has four career interceptions.

Wells has struggled over his first two seasons, starting only two games and rushing for 1,190 yards. His second season was slowed due to lingering injury issues.

Indianapolis defensive end Jerry Hughes played in 12 games but only recorded six tackles as a rookie.

But these three recent selections still have time to develop and join the group who has established themselves as starters, not busts.

So as history shows, Pittsburgh has a chance to get a valuable, albeit not spectacular, starter with the second to last selection of the first round.

For the Steelers, that just may be what they need, a solid starter who they can count on.

Given the Steelers drafting record since Kevin Colbert came aboard in 2000, chances are that the Steelers will find a player closer to the end of Heap, Asomugha or Olsen compared to the lone bust at the 31st slot, Woods.


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