Draft Grader: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers' drafts from 2008 through 2010 feature a standout WR and a high-round bust at the position, however neither is still in Pittsburgh.

| 4 years ago

Draft Grader: Pittsburgh Steelers

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.



Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • Dan

    Umm Dennis Dixon is signed by the Eagles

    • Nat

      He was drafted by Pitt.

    • pbskids4000

      And stupid comment of the day goes to…

  • whatupSteelers?

    did a scout get too old or the GM just happened to walk under a ladder lately ?

  • sgtrobo

    your disdain for Maurkice Pouncey continues to be a joke. Mike Humpal, Frank Summers, RaShon Harris, Chris Scott, and Crezdon Butler accumulated how many positional snaps combined? Zero? Yet that’s the same score as what you give Pouncey? Right. Makes perfect sense.

    • AndyMatts

      They’re looking at the production vs the draft pick used. A fifth or sixth round pick isn’t expected to do much. A first round pick is expected to start, so when the sixth round pick doesn’t do much, and the first round pick starts, they’d get an equal grade.

      • sgtrobo

        so Pouncey gets the same draft grade as a bunch of players who never saw the field?
        Pouncey is overrated. No doubt. He’s not an All Pro and at his best, he was borderline Pro Bowler but he was always 2nd/3rd best Center in his own division. However, to compare him to Crezdon Butler, Stevenson Sylvester, RaShon Harris, etc. guys who never saw the field, is just ludicrous. It’s like Miley Cyrus licking a sledgehammer. It serves as a form of self-ridicule for a website like PFF which has been really improving overall.

        • AndyMatts

          Yes, there would be the same draft grade. Your mistake is you are saying “so Pouncey gets the same grade?” He doesn’t get any grade, at all. The draft pick used and Colbert and company are getting the grade for their use of the pick.

          This isn’t a raw judgement of the player, himself, though that obviously factors in. This is a judgement of the teams’ ability to gauge talent. A seventh round player who never makes the team is not considered a failure. A first round pick who isn’t starting very soon is considered a major failure.

          We used, what, our fourth seventh round pick to get Beacham? And now he’s our main backup at every single O-line position, and a backup at extra TE. He’s a medicore player, but getting what he offers for that late seventh round pick would get a much higher score than Mendenhall, even though Mendenhall had more output at a higher level. That’s because the first round pick is SUPPOSED to produce, so unless they become a dominant superstar (JJ Watt, Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Peterson), your first round picks generally are not going to be able to score as high.

          They aren’t grading Pouncey as equal to those players, they are grading the quality of picking Pouncey, where the Steelers did, vs picking those other players, where they did.

          So, no, they’re not comparing him to Crezdon Butler, they’re comparing the value of drafting in the position that they did, at the draft pick cost that was used, versus the value of the pick spent on Butler.

          If I guy an old Saturn, 15 years old, for $300, and I have to take it into the shop twice over the next three years before it dies, and spend another $300, that’s a great buy and great value. If I buy an new BMW, for $35K, and have to take it into the shop for the same amount of repairs over the same time, I’m going to say that my purchase of the Saturn was a much better buy, and a much better value than the BMW. However, that doesn’t mean I’m saying that the Saturn and the BMW are of equal value or quality.

          That’s why the top score is “You found Tom Bracy IN THE SIXTH ROUND” and not “You found Tom Brady, period.”

          • sgtrobo

            ok, I see where you’re coming from, but Pouncey was a guy who started from day 1 as a rookie and has performed quite well. I don’t see how you can value a guy who has been a very good starter, even if he’s a first rounder, as being the same as a guy who never made the roster.

            I do get what you mean regarding draft placement, which is why an Antonio Brown should be an A+ (for example), but using Mendenhall as an example since they’re both 1st rounders, I don’t see how Fumblella could get the same grade. Mendenhall couldn’t beat out Willie Parker, got broke by Ray Lewis, and then had 1 good season, 1 mediocre season, and then lost his job to talentless players in Dwyer and Redman. If we’re going to use the “round picked plays a HUGE role” angle, then at least have Pouncey ahead of Mendenhall.

            I also cannot fathom comparing a guy who has never suited up for the team as being “equal draft grade” as a guy who won the starting job immediately, round or no round. What you are saying, essentially, is that someone drafted from the 4th round or later will get the same draft grade as a guy like Pouncey, and they never have to suit up for an NFL game in their lives.

            That doesn’t seem a bit strange to you?

          • AndyMatts

            He started from Day 1, but I’ve always thought he was overly lauded. He’s a solid starter, so, yes, I think he should get a higher grade than Mendenhall. I think Mendenhall was a bust, pretty much. Fourth round would cover approximately through pick 130. All of those other guys in that scoring tier are lower, some significantly so.

            A R1 pick being a solid, but not great starter would be about the same value as a sixth round pick who didn’t stick. Any first round pick who isn’t one of your top starters withing two years is a bust. You can’t say “round or no round” when their entire premise is looking at how smart a team drafted, which has to take value into account. That’s why Willie Parker would score at the very top of their scale, even though he was never considered one of the very “elite.”

            I’d guess they’re grading Pouncey a little low, because he gets so much hype and their film study leaves them pretty lukewarm, but not by much.

          • sgtrobo

            I think it’s quite obviously the ‘overcompensation’, and always has been here on PFF. Yes, he’s overrated, but he’s still a good player, and it is completely irrational to give the same draft grade to a player who never saw a snap in the NFL as to a guy who was a very good (not great) starter from day 1.

            Bottom line, that first rounder starts, so it wasn’t a wasted draft pick. The 6th rounder, regardless of your expectations, was completely wasted if he never played a snap in the NFL.

            Heck, even Ziggy Hood is worth more and I am FAR from a Ziggy Hood fan.

  • Jatbird7772

    Maurkice Pouncey= 3 pro bowls in his first 3 years, hmmm. What kind of talent evaluator are you, what credentials?

    • AndyMatts

      If you look at Pouncey getting pushed around on the inside, you’d realize these guys are closer to the mark than the Pro Bowl voters. He’s solid, but not great. Look at how well a scrub pulled off of waivers has filled in for him since he went down.

      And I’m a life-long Steeler fanatic.