I took a look at all the Steeler drafts since 1970 to compile a list of the best draft values over the years. I ranked them on how good the player ended up being, compared to what round they were drafted in.
10. Ike Taylor – 2003 – 4th round: Anytime you get a 10 year starter in any round, you’ve found yourself great value. Ike Taylor was never a superstar, or even a Pro Bowler for that matter. Taylor was an above average corner, who has 2 super bowl rings to show for it.
9. Barry Foster – 1990 – 5th round: Barry Foster wasn’t a Steeler long, but his short career was an impressive one. In 1992 Foster took the league by storm, coming in second to Emmit Smith for the rushing title with 1,690 yards. He was named All-Pro, and AFC offensive player of the year that season. Foster would never again reach those heights in four seasons with the Steelers, but for that one year he was one of the best.
8. Brett Keisel – 2002 – 7th round: Brett Keisel has a very similar career to Ike Taylor. He was a key contributor on defense for 12 seasons. Keisel even has a 2010 Pro Bowl, to go along with his 2 Super Bowl trophies. Not bad for a selection in the last round of the draft.
7. Hines Ward – 1998 – 3rd round: Hines Ward was the 15th receiver taken in the 1998 draft, behind busts like Joe Jurevicius and K. G. Green. The only receiver better then ward that year was Randy Moss, who was taken late in the first round. After a career of 12,000 yards receiving and 85 touchdowns, I’d say Ward was quite a bargain for round 3.
6. Merril Hoge – 1987 – 10th round: Now we will never mistake Merril Hoge as a Hall of Fame running back, not by a long shot. Any time however, you can get a 10th round pick to lead your team in rushing for four seasons, you got your moneys worth. Granted 1987 – 1992 weren’t the Steelers glory years, especially offensively.
5. Kelvin Beachum – 2012 – 7th round: I know Beachum’s Steeler career wasn’t very long, but any time you get a starting left tackle in round 7, you’ve accomplished something. His rise as a top tackle in the NFL was cut short by an injury last season. If Beachum is fully healthy this season for Jacksonville, he will continue to show the incredible bargain he was.
4. Greg Lloyd – 1987 – 6th round: One of my favorite Steelers of all time Greg Lloyd was one of the greatest linebackers of his era. Lloyd has 5 Pro Bowls, 3 all-pros, and one AFC defensive player of the year on his resume. All this out of a 6th round pick, that’s the definition of great value.
3. Mike Webster – 1974 – 5th round: Mike Webster is a Hall of Fame center who was one of the best of all time at his position. He is a 9 time All Pro, and a member of the NFL 75th anniversary All-Time Team. Webster was the steal in one of the best drafts of all time where Pittsburgh also selected Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, and John Stallworth.
2. L. C. Greenwood – 1969 – 10th round: L. C. Greenwood was dominate defensive lineman for the Steel Curtain defenses of the 70’s. While Joe Greene got most of the hype, Greenwood was equally important to the Steelers success. Greenwood was a 6 time Pro Bowler, and 2 time All-Pro to go along with his 4 Super Bowl rings. This was the start of great run of drafts that built Pittsburgh’s dynasty in the 70’s.
1. Antonio Brown – 2010 – 6th round: This ranking is based on the idea that A.B. can continue his dominance through the rest of his career. In 5 seasons, Brown already has 4 Pro Bowl seasons under his belt. He lead the entire league in receiving in 2014, and if it weren’t for Ben Roethlisberger’s injury he may have lead it in 2015 as well. Just coming into his prime now, the sky is the limit for the kind of numbers Antonio Brown can produce. Surely it will be enough to make him the number one draft value of all time for the Steelers.