It started with the selection of William Shakespeare, no not that William Shakespeare, but a halfback from Notre Dame in 1936 and most recently added Artie Burns. This list includes over 80 selections with seven being Hall of Famers and maybe a couple more when they retire, and what am I referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers history of selections in the NFL draft. I thought it was pretty darn cool to have drafted William Shakespeare but more importantly the draft has become an event and teams spend millions of dollars and countless numbers of hours trying to get the right fit for their team.
Some teams draft for needs and some teams like the Steelers draft to fill their need for speed and despite the Hall of Famers and great players, there have been busts, (i.e. Rashard Mendenhall and Ziggy Hood and most recently Jarvis Jones seems to be headed to the bust list).
Here is a list of the Top Ten Best Pittsburgh Steelers number 1 draft picks:
“Mean” Joe Green 1969-North Texas: he was the start of it, his selection was the building block for one of the fiercest defenses of all time
Terry Bradshaw 1970-Louisiana Tech: the kid could play despite all his antics, he was the leader but the team was still building around him
Franco Harris 1972-Penn State: his “Immaculate Reception” in his rookie year started it all the decade of champions was born on the fingertips of this future Hall of Famer
Lynn Swann 1974-USC: his grace and miraculous catches were legendary and despite his short career he set the standard for wide receivers for years to come
Rod Woodson 1987-Purdue: he became the new breed of NFL defensive backs, tall, strong and instincts like crazy. He earned his way to the NFL Hall of Fame with enormous skills and hard play
Alan Faneca 1998-LSU: he was the cog and the cornerstone of the Steelers offensive line. He was mean and nasty and dominant. He will be added to the list of Steelers Hall of Famers in the years to come.
Troy Polamalu 2003-USC: he was a wild man on the defensive side of the ball. With his trademark hair streaming out of his helmet, Polamalu was all over the field, making highlight reel hits and game changing interceptions. Polamalu just may enter the Hall of Fame as well.
Ben Roethlisberger 2004-Miami (Ohio): the recent face of the franchise has grown from his early year (off the field) issues to become a steady star in the NFL. He has become a dominant offensive force who can seemingly impose his will on the defensive with effortless efficiency.
Heath Miller 2005-Virginia: not the most number oriented player, but an important cog in the development of Ben Roethlisberger and the offense overall. He could block and he could make any catch in any situation, his value to the team can not be overstated.
David DeCastro 2012-Stanford: he is the next great Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman with his combination of strength, speed and nastiness, DeCastro is the ideal guard in the NFL. If he continues to be the steady and dominating force on this team, he too may end up in the Hall of Fame.
The NFL draft has changed the fortunes for teams, for the good and the bad, and the Steelers are no different, except that they are a cornerstone franchise of the NFL who were built one draft pick at a time.