With the 2014 NFL Draft coming up in a bit, and having finished taking stock of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, it’s now time to look back and see how the team assembled the roster they currently have through the draft.
It would be most simple to set a dividing line at 2007, the year Mike Tomlin took over at head coach, so we will revisit the past seven drafts, encompassing 59 selections, to see how the team treated each position, and look into why that is.
The next position we’ll revisit is the interior offensive line. With two first-round picks invested here, and other notable picks that didn’t always necessarily work out, it would be hard to argue that it’s gone ignored in recent years.
2007 – Cameron Stephenson – 5th round (156)
Cameron Stephenson was the first lineman selected in the Tomlin era. He failed to make the roster. He eventually saw brief playing time in 2008 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but ultimately found his way to the UFL and then arena football.
2009 – Kraig Urbik – 3rd round (79)
After trading out of the second round to acquire two extra third-round picks, the Steelers used the first to select Kraig Urbik. As a rookie, he was unable to impress his coaches, and only lasted one season on the roster with no playing time before being released. Unfortunately for the Steelers, he’s gone on to become a reliable starter for the Buffalo Bills. He’s one of the few players they gave up on too early.
2009 – A.Q. Shipley – 7th round (226)
Drafted as a short-armed center prospect, A. Q. Shipley spent his rookie season on the practice squad. He was a backup for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, starting five games, but after being traded to the Baltimore Ravens, he was asked to take on a bigger role due to injury. He ended up starting nine games at guard last season.
2010 – Maurkice Pouncey – 1st round (18)
The Steelers never replaced Jeff Hartings until they drafted Maurkice Pouncey, who made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons. His athleticism gives the offensive line the ability to do things, particularly on the edges, that other teams simply can’t run. He missed nearly all of last season with an injury, so his final season under his rookie contract will be a crucial one for both sides.
2010 – Chris Scott – 5th round (151)
A tackle converted to guard, Chris Scott began his career with injuries. With improved play in his second season, he was able to make the roster, and saw brief action in two games. He spent the next year being kicked around on practice squads, but he actually found some success last year with the Carolina Panthers, particularly in pass protection.
2011 – Keith Williams – 6th round (196)
Yet another late-round guard prospect, Keith Williams failed to make the roster out of training camp. He spent 2012 with the Bills and saw brief playing time, but he was waived injured in 2013 and is now playing arena league football.
2012 – David DeCastro – 1st round (24)
David DeCastro wasn’t supposed to fall to the bottom third of the first round of the 2012 draft, but nobody was more pleased that he did than the Steelers, who “ran to the podium” to take him. Unfortunately, he missed most of his rookie season with a torn MCL, but he rebounded in year two and has begun to look like the elite prospect he is. He was a Pro Bowl alternate last season and still has a higher ceiling, particularly in pass protection and in establishing consistency.