Pittsburgh Steelers And AFC North’s Best/Worst NFL Draft Picks


The owners of the National Football League conducted their first draft in 1936. It has served as the league’s basic source of player recruitment. The creation of a “player selection meeting” has always been viewed as the primary way to increase the competitive balance between the teams.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are the fifth-oldest team in the history of the NFL and actually pre-date the draft. Art Rooney, Sr. founded the franchise in July 1933 and originally christened them the Pirates. They were a member of the Eastern Division of the 10-team NFL.

I would like to offer up one man’s opinion on who are the Best and Worst picks by the Steelers and the rest of the AFC North. Let me know your thoughts in the comments sections below.

Pittsburgh Steelers – For the Black and Gold, you and I can debate the merits of several candidates for the honor of the team’s best pick in the draft. I have a tie for the top spot based on the fact that the team has retired two jerseys in its history.

They are defensive tackles Ernie Stautner, who was taken in the second round of the 1950 draft from Boston College, and Joe Greene, who was selected in the first round, No. 4 overall, in the 1969 draft from the University of North Texas. The Rooney Family feels they are the best and that is good enough for me.

Hall of Famer and eight time Pro Bowl linebacker Jack Ham had this to say on the team’s web site, “There is nobody else out there that I would put ahead of Joe Greene. By far the best Steeler of all time.”

While there are several candidates who can claim the dubious distinction of being the Steelers Worst Pick in the draft, I am going to go with the 1991 first round selection of Huey Richardson. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound defensive end from the University of Florida appeared in five contests and put up a total of three tackles, one of those coming on special teams.

In the runner-up category, I submit to you wide receiver Troy Edwards from Louisiana Tech in 1999, defensive lineman Darryl Sims from Wisconsin in 1985, and wide receiver Limas Sweed from Texas in 2008.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

Cleveland Browns – There can only be one name that holds the title as the Best Draft pick in the history of the Browns and that is running back Jim Brown from Syracuse in 1957. The Hall of Famer ran for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns in just 118 games over nine seasons. He contributed 2,499 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns.

He was the Browns first pick and second overall in ’57. The gentleman taken ahead of him was Notre Dame running back and fellow Hall of Famer, Paul Hornung by the Green Bay Packers.

My choice for Worst Pick by Cleveland is Boston College running back William Green in 2002. The 16th selection overall concluded his Browns career with just 2,109 yards over four seasons.

My runner-up candidates include linebacker Mike Junkin from Duke in 1987, quarterback Brady Quinn from Notre Dame in 2007, running back Trent Richardson from Alabama in 2012, and offensive guard Pete Adams from USC in 1973.

Cincinnati Bengals – It was offensive tackle Anthony Munoz who set the standard for a generation of what a left tackle was suppose to do at his position. The third pick overall in the 1980 draft from USC was elected All-Pro for 11 consecutive years from 1981-1991. He was chosen for the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.

I think the Cincinnati faithful would agree that the choice of quarterback Akili Smith from Oregon in 1999 set the franchise back a few seasons. The No. 1 runner-up in my mind is running back Ki-Jana Carter from Penn State in 1995 with Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson in 1979 a close second.

Baltimore Ravens – The man who was one of the best to ever play middle linebacker, Ray Lewis has to be considered as the Ravens Best Pick. He was the 26th selection overall from the University of Miami in 1996. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003. Lewis was also the second linebacker to ever win the Most Valuable Player award in the Super Bowl.

I give the nod for the Ravens Worst Pick to wide receiver Mark Clayton from Oklahoma in 2005. In five seasons, he did not have a 1,000 yard season. The runner-up for the worst on Edgar Allen Poe’s favorite franchise include quarterback Kyle Boller from the California Golden Bears in 2003 and linebacker Sergio Kindle from Texas in 2010.

The first round of the 2015 NFL Draft is set for 8 p.m. Thursday, April 30 at the Auditorium Theatre on the campus of Roosevelt University in Chicago. It will be broadcast on ESPN and the NFL Network. Who will make a difference in the AFC North this year?

Next: Steelers and the last man standing at NFL Draft

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