Are the Pittsburgh Steelers overrated in player selection?

When you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, one of the first things you might think of is the Steelers’ impressive ability to select talent. What’s more, you can think back to the team’s nearly 20-year streak without having a losing season. Those two factors alone would lead one to believe that the Steelers have continued to be an elite pick team to date. But what if I told you that only five of the 51 draft picks (+6 free agents) from 2011-2017 were still under contract with the team today?

This could make you question the Steelers’ ability to add talent during the draft. Perhaps the Steelers have made amends for their draft woes with 20 players on the current roster from the last three drafts. But how different would things be if the Steelers could get just one more starting caliber player in the 2011-2017 stretch? Maybe we would be talking about another Lombardi trophy and deeper playoff races.

Below are the last ten drafts in Steelers history along with the current status of those players. You can make your own opinions on how the team has been written.

2020 – 6 players under contract
Chase Claypool – Star Potential
Alex Highsmith – Stater Potential
Anthony McFarland – Roleplayer Potential
Kevin Dotson – Stater Potential
Antoine Brooks Jr. – Potential for depth
Carlos Davis – Depth potential

2019 – 7 players under contract
Devin Bush – Star Potential
Diontae Johnson – Jury still out
Justin Layne – Probable Bust
Benny Snell – Jury still out
Zach Gentry – NFL Limit Player
Sutton Smith – Outside the NFL
Isaiah Buggs – Depth Potential
Ulysees Gilbert – Depth Potential
Derwin Gray – Depth Potential (in Jacksonville)

2018 – 6 players under contract
Terrell Edumunds – NFL starter
James Washington – Third receiver
Mason Rudolph – Backup Quarterback
Chukwuma Okorafor – NFL starter
Marcus Allen – NFL Limit Player
Jaylen Samuels – NFL Limit Player
Joshua Frazier – Outside the NFL

2017 – 1 player under contract
TJ Watt – Superstar
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Solid Number 2 – Free Agent
Cameron Sutton – Marginal Stater – Free Agent
James Conner – Fringe starter – Free agent
Josh Dobbs – NFL Marginal Player – Free Agent
Brian Allen – NFL fringe player
Colin Holba – NFL fringe player
Keion Adams – Outside the NFL

2016 – 0 players under contract
Artie Burns – NFL fringe player
Sean Davis – NFL Marginal Player
Javon Hargrave – NFL starter
Jerald Hawkins – NFL Marginal Player – Free Agent
Travis Feeney – Outside the NFL
Demarcus Ayers – Outside the NFL
Tyler Matakevich – Special Team

2015 – 0 players under contract
Bud Dupree – NFL starter – free agent
Senquez Golson – Outside the NFL
Sammie Coates – Outside the NFL
Doran Grant – Outside the NFL
Jesse James – tight end No. 2
LT Walton – Outside the NFL
Anthony Chickillo – NFL fringe player
Gerod Holliman – Outside the NFL

2014 – 1 player under contract
Ryan Shazier – Injury ending his career
Stephon Tuitt – Professional Bowler
Dri Archer – Outside the NFL
Martavis Bryant – Outside the NFL
Shaquille Richardson – Outside the NFL
Wesley Johnson – Outside the NFL
Jordan Zumwalt – Outside the NFL
Dan McCullers – NFL fringe player
Rob Blanchflower – Outside the NFL

2013 – 1 player under contract
Jarvis Jones – Outside the NFL
Le’Veon Bell – All Pro
Markus Wheaton – Outside the NFL
Shamarko Thomas – Outside the NFL
Landry Jones – Outside the NFL
Terry Hawthorne – Outside the NFL
Justin Brown – Outside the NFL
Vince Williams – NFL starter
Nick Williams – Deceased Starter

2012 – 1 player under contract
David DeCastro – All Pro
Mike Adams – Outside the NFL
Sean Spence – Outside the NFL
Alameda Ta’amu – Outside the NFL
Chris Rainey – Outside the NFL
Toney Clemons – Outside the NFL
David Paulson – Outside the NFL
Terrence Frederick – Outside the NFL
Kelvin Beachum – Departure Departure

2011 – 1 player under contract
Cam Heyward – All Professional
Marcus Gilbert – Starting Party
Curtis Brown – Outside the NFL
Cortez Allen – Outside the NFL
Chris Carter – Outside the NFL
Keith Williams – Outside the NFL
Baron Batch – Outside the NFL

Most obvious to me is the stretch between 2013-2016 where the Steelers only have Stephon Tuitt and Vince Williams currently on the 2021 roster. Four consecutive drafts that gave the Steelers just two players five years later is embarrassing. Sure in 2011 and 2012 there are only a couple of players returning in 2021, but at least those years have far exceeded the average length of an NFL career.

But what do you think? Are the Steelers still a great writing team? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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