In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has been given a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
With the monstrous Big Ben on the roster, they didn’t need to.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Mike Wallace, WR (84th overall pick in 2009): The high point of a somewhat disappointing 2009 draft. Wallace isn’t the most versatile of receivers, but what he does, he does very well. The league’s premier deep threat, Wallace didn’t deliver into 2012 (and is no longer with the team), but the money Miami gave him, his +15.6 grade over four years and 32 career touchdowns show what he’s about.
Antonio Brown, WR (195th overall pick in 2010): As close as you can get to the top grade, Brown has delivered in such a way in Years 2 and 3 that it made Mike Wallace expendable, and really gets you excited about the future. Capable of operating all over the field, he has a +28.3 receiving grade over his three seasons.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Keenan Lewis, CB (96th overall pick in 2009): After three disappointing years where you wondered if Lewis would ever seriously contribute, he took his chance with both hands in 2012. That led to him leaving the team, but the Steelers can be happy they got a guy who led the league in pass deflections for one season if nothing else.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Ryan Mundy, S (194th overall pick in 2008): Mundy has proven himself a valuable player to have, contributing as a backup safety while picking up 43 special teams tackles over the past four years.
David Johnson, TE/ FB (241st overall pick in 2009): The former seventh-rounder has turned out to be a versatile asset for the Steelers’ offense, splitting his time between tight end and fullback. Despite missing last year, he’s still proved valuable with an impressive +8.3 run blocking grade in three years of action.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR (82nd overall pick in 2010): Looked particularly good in his rookie year, before an injury severely limited him in 2011. Has had his ups and downs but contributed well.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB (188th overall pick in 2010): Good value in the sixth. Dwyer can make something out of nothing with his ability to run through tackles. Could be a decent part of a rotation, but ideally not someone you want carrying the load.
0.0: It could have been worse
Rashard Mendenhall, RB (23rd overall pick in 2008): Injuries hurt Mendenhall’s rookie year and after another significant one in 2011 his 2012 was a write off. Pittsburgh just couldn’t get the production out of him (some of that down to his offensive line) that you warrant from a first-round back.
Dennis Dixon, QB (156th overall pick in 2008): Dixon was never cut out to be an NFL starter, and looked pretty horrible for the most part when the Steelers were forced to play him. He did do enough with his 156 snaps to not overly cost his team, so it could have been much worse. He is currently unsigned and Pittsburgh hasn’t shown much interest in bringing him back.
Mike Humpal, LB (188th overall pick in 2008): The former sixth-round pick missed his rookie year with a neck injury and was then waived.
Joe Burnett, CB (168th overall pick in 2009): Just 44 defensive snaps and not a whole lot of special teams value here.
Frank Summers, FB (169th overall pick in 2009): Missed his rookie year on injured reserve and was then waived a year later.
RaShon Harris, DT (205th overall pick in 2009): Was released by the Steelers and claimed off waivers by the Panthers. Harris did manage to make it back onto the Steelers’ roster eventually, but never managed to stick.
Maurkice Pouncey, C (18th overall pick in 2010): A solid player, we’ve never understood the hype because for all his measurables his play on the field rarely stands out. Is a solid starting center good value in the first?
Chris Scott, T (151st overall pick in 2010): Didn’t get on the field and was cut after a year with the club. Later signed to the practice squad and on a futures contract.
Crezdon Butler, CB (164th overall pick in 2010): The former fifth-rounder was claimed off waivers when the Steelers released him after a year.
Stevenson Sylvester, LB (166th overall pick in 2010): Figured there may have been an opportunity for him to start in 2012, but with just one snap to his name that didn’t materialize. Drew a blank on the special teams scoresheet as well (though he did miss three tackles). One last chance this year.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Tony Hills, T (130th overall pick in 2008): Just 43 pretty horrible snaps are all the Steelers have to show for the former fourth-round pick. Given his performance in that action, it’s amazing he lasted as long as he did with the team.
A.Q. Shipley, C (226th overall pick in 2009): Cut before the start of the 2009 season. Has looked good when he’s played for the Colts.
Jason Worilds, LB (52nd overall pick in 2010): Will get a real chance to lock down a starting spot this year, but he’s going to have to take a step forward on what we’ve seen so far. His -6.5 pass rushing grade last year doesn’t fill you with confidence.
Thaddeus Gibson, LB (116th overall pick in 2010): Never good when a fourth-round pick is cut in the October of his rookie year.
Doug Worthington, DT (242nd overall pick in 2010): Initially made the practice squad, but was then cut a few days later before the 2010 season began.
-1.0: What a waste!
Bruce Davis, OLB (88th overall pick in 2008): A third-round pick cut a year after being drafted without ever seeing the field. Need I say more?
Ziggy Hood, DE (32nd overall pick in 2009): People can’t wait to excuse the performance of Hood, but his constant inability to make much of an impact on the field is a concern. Too often loses his one-on-one battles, he’s finished in the bottom four of our 3-4 defensive end rankings the past three years.
Kraig Urbik, G (79th overall pick in 2009): Is this one on the coaches? Urbik, a former third-round pick, never got on the field for the Steelers and was cut a year after being drafted. Since going to Buffalo, though, he’s looked like a capable NFL starter.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Limas Sweed, WR (53rd overall pick in 2008): Expected to help the Steelers’ receiving group get younger, Sweed was a major disappointment. He managed just 162 snaps, while earning a awful -8.8 grade. He ended up catching just nine balls for the Steelers, while dropping three. Only one word describes the selection of Sweed … terrible.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/Leaf hybrids in this draft.
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