Categorized | Article, Rankings

Steelers Greatest Draft Hits – Sixth Round


By Michael K. Reynolds

The hits keep coming as we continue to explore the best draft picks of all time for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Continuing in their tradition of finding gems in small colleges the scouting team picked some real winners in round six making these selections the toughest so far.

Just as reminder, our selection process covers all the drafts of the modern Steelers era (1969 to today) and requires players (with rare exception) to have played in Pittsburgh for the majority of their career in order to qualify.

Without further ado, here are the top choices for the sixth round.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits | Sixth Round

RANK NAME POSITION YEAR DRAFTED COLLEGE
1 Greg Lloyd LB 1987 Fort Valley State
2 Antonio Brown WR 2010 Central Michigan
3 Tunch Ilkin T 1980 Indiana State
4 Dwayne Woodruff DB 1979 Louisville
5 Bryan Hinkle LB 1981 Oregon
6 Gary Dunn NT 1976 Miami (Fl.)

Greg Lloyd

There will probably never be a player like Jack Lambert who so embodied the fierceness of great Steelers linebackers but Greg Lloyd may come close. Lloyd, a black belt in the martial arts took nothing from nobody…and that included his own teammates. He was just…mean…and that fit in perfect for the Steelers elite defenses of the 1990’s. In addition to having the perfect temperament he also had top level talent and was the prototypical edge rush 3-4 linebacker. Not only was Lloyd capable of getting to the quarterback—having collected 53.5 sacks for the team in his career—but he seemed always to make big plays when the team needed them most. Lloyd’s career ended with injury having first blown out his knee and then later suffering from a bizarre staph infection after an ankle sprain. He got back on the field but was never the same great player that thrilled Steelers fans and struck terror in the hearts of opponents for so many years.

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown was one of the original “Young Money” receivers for the Steelers teaming up with fellow posse members Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders. With both Wallace and Sanders taking their money and running, the Steelers wisely chose the best of the bunch. Brown was originally the least regarded of the three but his famous “ball on the side of the helmet” catch in his rookie season flashed the greatness that would soon come to be fully realized. Brown proved to be one of the NFL’s best in 2013 and if he keeps this up, he may even give Greg Lloyd a run at the number one spot on this list.

Tunch Ilkin

In many ways there is a four-way tie in the three spot but Tunch Ilkin gets the nod here because of his post-playing days as a beloved broadcaster and…well…because he’s such a nice guy. But Ilkin was also an excellent player for the Steelers and a team favorite during the final years of Coach Chuck Noll’s reign. Ilkin was not highly regarded as a rookie and had to work his way into the lineup. He did it by perhaps developing the finest technique of any offensive lineman the Steelers have ever had. His savvy was such as a student of the game that he is a sought-after line consultant having innovated the league famous “Tunch’s Punch”. A two-time Pro Bowler he was kind of player and individual that any coach would dream of having in their locker room.

Dwayne Woodruff

Yes…believe it or not…there was a time when Steelers cornerbacks could actually catch balls thrown directly at them. One of the best at getting interceptions was Dwayne Woodruff and his talent was such that he was able to get playing time even for the Steelers great defense of the late 1970’s. He hauled in 37 interceptions over his career. Woodruff was such a smart player he earned a law degree during his time playing on the team, becoming a judge following his NFL career.

Bryan Hinkle

When it comes to drafts one thing you can always count on with Pittsburgh Steelers scouts: They know their linebackers. Bryan Hinkle handled what is perhaps the team’s most prestigious position for twelve seasons for the Steelers and although he wasn’t the most spectacular of the famous linebackers he may qualify as perhaps the most steady. Hinkle was equally adept at rushing the quarterback as he was in picking them off as he finished his career with 22.5 sacks and 15 interceptions. In 1986 he was a second team All Pro.

Gary Dunn

Imagine how difficult it must have been for Gary Dunn when he entered the league as a Steelers rookie. First he realizes that he will have to beat out Joe Greene if he wants to start and secondly that he’ll have to face up against Mike Webster everyday during practice. He didn’t fair well at either but getting to play with the best prepared him years later when he got his turn to be a starter. Dunn was the original great Steelers 3-4 nosetackle and was the model for which others like Joel Steed and Casey Hampton would someday aspire to be. What made him so unique in addition to his gifts at stopping the run was his pass rushing ability. He managed to get 22 sacks during his career, oftentimes while having to take on double teams in the heart of the scrum.

Just Missed the Cut:

Willie Williams (1993) The end of the 1990’s was a rough time to be a Steelers fan because the team didn’t seem to keep ANY of its free agents. Willie Williams was a promising young player who was one of those who flew the coop. He gets mentioned here because he finally came to his senses and returned to Pittsburgh to finish his career. In many ways a player similar to William Gay in that he was much better than what fans gave him credit. Because if you play opposite Rod Woodson…you WILL be targeted. Despite that, he always held up his side of the field.

READ PAST ARTICLES OF THIS SERIES

Steelers Greatest Draft Picks: Round Seven

Steelers Greatest Draft Picks: Round Eight

Steelers Greatest Draft Picks: Round Nine +

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About Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • colingrant

    4 were pro-bowlers. Lloyd (5), Brown (2), Ilkin (2) and Hinkle (1)

  • Bob

    “staff” infection?

  • steeltown

    There’s a lot of names from the 6th Rd over the yrs..

  • Paddy

    Bunch of nice guys, except Lloyd

  • Big White

    Oh man, what a list! All great names and in particular I find Woodruff to be interesting. I think he played in the last Super Bowl of the 70′s and carried over into the “dark years”. Never did anything that I remember as being spectacular, but when the smoke setttled, 37 career interceptions. Don’t quote me on this, but there may be a number or secondary guys in Canton who don’t have 37 career interceptions.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Lloyd was a black belt also? No shite! Joey Porter was also a martial arts guy. I always thought martial arts training would help and have suggested this for ages. Perhaps they will listen to Porter if he recommends they try it. Fascinating.

  • chris ward

    Nice list, a lot of good names, Steelers have a nice history of picking up quality players in the 6th round.

  • GoSteelerz

    Unfortunately, no, there aren’t any secondary guys with less than 40 int’s. in the HoF. There are some guys who played secondary, but they got in the Hall due to other positions, like Don Hutson was a receiver for Green Bay, and Sammy Baugh was a QB (and even a punter) for the Redskins. Having said that, I always liked Woodruff, and he definitely had some good years on some bad Steelers teams. Had he started sooner or hadn’t missed the 1986 season, he may have had more. He led our team in int’s several times. In his prime, he definitely was one of the league’s better defenders.

  • srdan

    Man I miss that facemask!

  • Matt Manzo

    Greg Lloyd!!!! My favorite! I remember the first time the interview was aired when he talks about playing high school ball and how pissed he got at all the other kids parents cheering their kids on, and he says…”I wanted to kill Johnny!”

  • Jason

    Lloyd and Kevin Green outside, Kirkland and Chad brown inside. What a foursome.

  • srdan

    yeah, that was freaking ridiculous. Kinda like the niners now.

  • Madi

    I was just a kid, but I always thought Willie Williams was good. I certainly held him in higher regard than William Gay (at least the first 4-6 years of his career).

  • Matt Manzo

    Better than the 9ers! People were afraid of Lloyd!
    I wish we coulda had Bettis n Lloyd on the same team, the 2 most feared players!!! Ds hated tackling Bettis!

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    You’re right. He was a better player. He also left the team early to free agency which is why he slipped on this list.

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