The Steelers Impressive Run of 1st Rd Draft Picks

posted by David Todd -

Since 2000 the Steelers have rarely missed with a first record pick even though they have generally been picking in the latter half of the round. It's been quite a run. Here are their choices since 2000 with my grades:

2000 Plaxico Burress, WR Michigan St 8th overall (only top 10 pick in the century)

Burress had five productive years with the Steelers after being drafted. He caught 261 passes for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns. He left the Steelers in 2005 signing a six-year, $25 million contract with the New York Giants. Brian Urlacher was taken the pick after Burress and the Steelers took OT Marvel Smith in the second round that year. Grade B

2001 Casey Hampton, DT Texas 19th overall

Big Snack was the anchor of the great Steelers defenses of his era. He played big snaps as a rookie, made the Pro Bowl by 2003, five times overall and was part of two SB winning teams. The second half of the first round of this draft was as good as it gets: Santana Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Nate Clemens, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Wayne and Todd Heap among others. Grade A

2002 Kendall Simmons, G Auburn 30th overall

Simmons started his first two years, but dealt with health and injury issues virtually his entire career. He did start every game in 2005 and won a SB. The list of players drafted after Simmons isn't very distinguished. Center LeCharles Bentley went to the Saints at 44. Grade B

2003 Troy Polamalu, DB USC 16th overall

Future Hall of Famer. Grade A+

2004 Ben Roethlisberger, QB Miami (Ohio) 11th overall

Future Hall of Famer. Grade A+

2005 Heath Miller, TE Virginia 30th overall

Heath Miller, like Casey Hampton, was an all-time Steelers great. He started immediately and was a 2-time Pro Bowler and SB champ. Miller was both an outstanding blocker and receiver. Durable and unassuming Miller might be the Steeler player of this era who fans would vote most represented what they wanted a Pittsburgh Steeler to be. Grade A

2006 Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio St. 25th overall

The Super Bowl MVP of SB XLIII, Holmes will always be remembered for the game-winning, toe-tapping catch he made in the waning seconds. In his four seasons with the Steelers he had 235 catches, 3,835 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was traded after the 2009 season to the Jets for a fifth-round pick. RB DeAngelo Williams was taken two picks after Holmes. Grade A

2007 Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida St. 15th overall

Law Dog was Mike Tomlin's first ever draft pick and just left the Steelers this offseason to sign with the Miami Dolphins. Timmons was a starter by his third year and a member of the SB-winning 2008 team. Durable and productive like Hampton and Miller, Timmons fits right along with them. The Steelers took LaMarr Woodley in the second round of that draft. Grade A

2008 Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois 23rd overall

Mendenhall's legacy is hotly-debated among Steelers fans. He had three productive seasons in his five years with the Steelers, but he was never a dominant back. He will also always be remembered for his fumble late in SB XLV as the Steelers were mounting a comeback against the Packers. CJ 2K, Chris Johnson was taken the pick immediately after Mendenhall. Grade C

2009 Ziggy Hood, DL Missouri 32nd overall

Hood was an average defensive lineman who never developed the way the Steelers hoped. Was he miscast? The picks after Hood also were undistinguished. Grade D

2010 Maurkice Pouncey, C Florida 18th overall

2-time 1st team and 2-time second team All-Pro, a 5-time Pro Bowler the only thing Pouncey doesn't have is a SB ring. A potential Hall of Famer. Grade A

2011 Cam Heyward, DE Ohio St. 31st overall

Heyward is a guy currently more appreciated in Pittsburgh than around the NFL. He didn't become a starter until 2014 and after 2015 the Steelers signed him to a 6-year contract extension and he is clearly a team leader. He has yet to make a Pro Bowl and his 2016 season was cut short by injury. Grade B (I expect this to turn into an A in the next couple years)

2012 David DeCastro, G Stanford 24th overall

1st and 2nd team All-Pro once each and 2-time Pro Bowler DeCastro is seen as one of the game's elite guards. The Steelers signed him to a five-year extension going into the 2016 season. Grade A

2013 Jarvis Jones, LB Georgia 17th overall

There is no debate that Jarvis Jones didn't live up to expectations with the Steelers. There is much debate as to why. Was he not given enough opportunity early on? Did injuries derail him? Or was he just not that good. Jones started about half the games during his Steelers tenure, but he ended up behind James Harrison and the Steelers did not pick up his 5th-year option. Tyler Eifert, Desomnd Trufant, Xavier Rhodes and DeAndre Hopkins were all picked in the ten picks following Jones. Grade F

2014 Ryan Shazier, LB Ohio St. 15th overall

Shazier's failing has been his inability to consistently stay on the field, but he is an elite athlete that I think has the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year. He is the Steelers best defensive player. Grade A

2015 Bud Dupree, LB Kentucky 22nd overall

After a solid rookie season, Dupree missed the first half of 2016 with an injury. He returned and took over the starting LOLB spot the second half of the year and flourished. The Steelers are looking for a breakout 2017 season. Shane Ray went the pick after Dupree to Denver, Shaq Thompson went 25 to Carolina and Landon Collins went 33 to the Giants.  Incomplete (Grade B to-date)

2016 Artie Burns, CB Miami 25th overall

Burns took over the starting position midway through his rookie season and finished with three interceptions. He looks to be a starter for years to come. Incomplete (Grade A to-date)

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