Steelers Spin: Greatest Draft Hits – Sixth Round

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 a 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.

Here are some of the Steelers most recent sixth round draft selections: (2013) Vince Williams, (2013) Justin Brown, (2014) Daniel McCullers, (2014) Jordan Zumwalt, (2015) Anthony Chickillo, (2015) L.T. Walton and (2016) Travis Feeney.

If we’re reviewing that list with any modicum of sobriety we’d probably only remotely consider Williams as having a chance to make an appearance on the list. But since he’s never been a starter since being drafted by the Steelers he’s going to remain fairly far off of the radar when contrasted with our other finalists.

But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some dramatic shakeup in this list over the past few years. In what will be a somewhat controversial move to some of the oldtimers (who believe defense should always trump offense in Pittsburgh), there is a new leader of the pack.

So here is your freshly updated chart for the Steelers greatest sixth rounders.

Pittsburgh Steelers Greatest Draft Hits | Sixth Round

1Antonio BrownWR2010Central Michigan
2Greg LloydLB1987Fort Valley State
3Tunch IlkinT1980Indiana State
4Dwayne WoodruffDB1979Louisville
5Bryan HinkleLB1981Oregon
6Gary DunnNT1976Miami (Fl.)

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 established himself as one of the NFL’s best by 2013 and by many learned analysts has been the league’s top ball catcher for two seasons running.

Now with a newly inked contract to ensure he’ll finish his career as a Steeler, Brown has the inevitable task of trying to pass a certain quarterback in New England as the GOAT of sixth round draft picks. Impossible? Probably. But don’t tell that to Antonio Brown.

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 perfectly for the Steelers elite defenses of the 1990’s. In addition to having the quintessential 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.

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 the kind of player and individual that any coach would dream of having in their locker room.

Dwayne Woodruff

Yes…cornerbacks can have good hands. Dwayne Woodruff was one of the best Steelers at getting interceptions and his talent was such that he was able to get playing time even for the team’s 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

Despite a few recent misfires, when it comes to drafts there is one thing over the past four decades you could say about 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 he was 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.

Greatest Hits Archive

Ninth Round+
Eighth Round
Seventh Round

About the Author

Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of
Ireland series.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I always wondered what kind of name Tunch Ilkin was. German?, hillbilly?.

  • Alex Kozora

    Born in Turkey.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;


  • Terrible Towlie

    Gary Dunn owns a resort in the keys…..the Ocean View ..met him as i was passing thru….nice guy

  • Rusted Out

    If only Jarvis Jones had a drop of Lloyd’s tenacity. We wouldn’t be drafting an OLB in the first again, that’s for sure.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Another excellent piece Michael.
    I cannot dispute any selection or where you placed them. I agree with the 3A, 3B, 3C…Each were good players for all the reasons you cited.
    I loved Hinkle. Not a flashy guy, but very steady and very good.

  • Sdale

    Wow. That’s a hell of a group.

  • 20Stoney

    His mother was previously “Miss Turkey” I believe. (That sounds horrible)

  • 20Stoney

    I remember running into Willie Williams once in Latrobe and he was so small. I thought he was a highschool kid. That guy had a lot of guts to play in the NFL.

  • Brenton deed

    It’s tough to argue against AB but I’m going to.

    Greg Lloyd brought back the swagger to Pittsburgh after years in the doldrums. Didn’t he win DPOY once? I think Mean Joe showed the Steelers how to win and Lloyd made them remember what #75 taught them.

    Woodson, Lake, Greene, Steed, Kirkland and Brown made that defense great but it was Lloyd who caused opposing teams to change their uniforms. When they came to Three Rivers they wore brown pants!

  • steeel

    Sorry but it wasn’t just Lloyd being mean. You are way off. Lloyd benched 475 and ran close to 4.55-4.6. And he had electrical engineering degree. Takes way more than just being @mean@.

  • Brenton deed

    Oh I didn’t mean to imply he compensated for lack of talent with meaness, he was the real deal in all ways. Nevertheless he seemed to bring a confidence and fierce desire back that seemed to have been missing.

    Electrical engineer huh? Snap! I knew there was a reason I liked him. I’ve got one too!

  • walter

    Dwayne Woodruff was team MVP in 82

  • steelcityinny

    This goes to show that for some reason the Steelers find some gems in the 6th round. You could debate how the remainder are ranked, but clearly AB and Greg Lloyd are number 1 and 2. Personally I was a little higher on Gary Dunn, but again splitting hairs.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I had a feeling Michael, that you were going to go AB over Greg. And that there would be some groans from the audience. AB catches a lot of flack on this site, especially after the playoffs last year. And Greg Lloyd is one of the more sacred guys that gets mentioned.

    I found it interesting that you selected 3 guys who were all drafted in sequence: ’79, ’80, ’81.

    The 5th and 6th rounds have been tough ones for the Steelers over the decades. We seem to have some pretty poor drafting records in those rounds, for whatever the reason. But hitting on a couple of really special players like Lloyd and Brown, help to make up for it a bit.

    My own list would have Woodruff CLEARLY entrenched in the 3 spot.

    You can make an argument that TODAY, Lloyd should be 1 over Brown. But I think it’s fair to slightly assume what the near future will likely do for Brown on the list. Which is shoot right past everyone for SURE, and then more than likely later, make him a Hall of Famer.
    (For the record, I’d probably still have Brown over Lloyd, even now.. But it’s razor thin)

  • She gobbled up all of the beauty awards.

  • I enjoyed hearing him on Wolfley’s show one time. Apparently a fun guy. Love the Keys. Gotta return there sometime soon.

  • I think it’s more of a talent disparity. Lloyd had a burst and natural core strength that Jarvis just doesn’t have. Oh…yeah…you’re right. There’s that nasty streak too.

  • Whah? Did I lose you at 3D?

  • You’re so right. Some of these corners are little dudes having to crash into giants.

  • Brenton. You are so right. Lloyd brought the swagger back to the D. Don’t you think we desperately need that now? Who do we have when James hangs up his cletes? But I’m still going AB. The Steelers D was too rich in talent for teams to double and triple team Lloyd. That’s what they do with AB…and he still earns All Pro. It pains me because Lloyd is in my top five all-time favorite list of Steelers…and it’s close. But with AB’s new contract locking him down as a lifer in Pittsburgh it won’t be close for long.

  • Does this mean I’m not undefeated any more? Tunch was considered by many to be an NFL top three left tackle his last few years. As good as Woodruff was I’m not sure the same was being said about him at his position. I think the order is right. Now what’s my Darth record?

  • Brenton deed

    Once I read what you wrote I thought “Of Course!” “That’s exactly what this defense needs.” When Deebo and Woodley were in full flight that was the last time this was really scary. You may disagree but if this defense had two scary pass rushing OLBs they met even be better than that great defense of the “naughties”!?!?

    I’d love to see Brady sh$$ing himself behind centre as he checks out a Steeler defense!

  • Brenton deed

    I have high hopes for Dupree but we need a scary monster at ROLB to spell Deebo (obviously!)

    Can the FO find one in this draft? I wish I knew if Golson was going to be OK. Maybe they risk going OLB in 1&2 and wait until round 3 for a slot corner? Although that seems like a waste.
    Oh well, I suppose it all depends on what players are there and the FO are among the best in the business.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Of course not…I was trying to be brief. I had Hinkle on the mind. I was rushing to extol his virtues and sing his praises. Lol

  • Darth Blount 47

    Allow me to say a few things, and keep you after school for a moment, before assigning you your grade.

    First, a slight mea culpa. You have to be careful sometimes where you go and dig up your research information at, especially on players who you remember, but need validating number references when forming lists such as these. Often, not only does your mind play funny tricks as it ages, but you become so biased because of the past grandeur, that a steadying revisiting of that past, becomes not only welcome, but necessary. I received poor information on that front about Ilkin.

    And though I will stand by my assertion that I lean towards Woodruff at 3, it’s now only a lean, and perhaps all are actually closer to your above provided caveat, of essentially a 4-way tie for 3rd spot. The 4 guys in question are more easily separated by a toothpick, and not a 2X4. Each providing solid, if unspectacular contributions, to the 6th Round argument.

    Because championships matter in Pittsburgh, Woodruff’s immediate contribution as a Rookie in helping the Steelers win a Super Bowl (especially in the playoffs that year), combined with him finishing as a Top 5 guy in Steelers history with his 37 int’s, AND adding an impressive 5 total Defensive TD’s, gives him the nod for me.
    (And that is such the argument one COULD use to bump Dunn up over say, Hinkle, if one were so inclined. However unfair that may seem to some, we ARE, ‘The City of Champions’. I personally though think you got that toothpick separation right as well.)

    But as I’ve intimated when the first article on this topic appeared, getting the number 1 slot right, is where the grades ultimately must come from. I think the only way you can’t get the “passing grade,” would be to have either the top spot be wholly incorrect, or if every slot is openly debatable by me. And since in this instance I believe many slots were correct, including the #1 slot, you are still tentatively indeed passing, and therefore are “4-0.”

  • Rusted Out

    I was being kind. Jarvis can’t hold Lloyd’s jock strap. So happy he’s Arizona’s problem now. A few more days until they try again. Fingers crossed.