It’s a “15 Minutes” tradition. On the day after the NFL Draft, we issue a grade to the Steelers -- for the draft that was held three years prior. This, of course, is the only time to properly and correctly grade a draft. In this case, we’re looking at 2009, which was a doubly critical draft for Pittsburgh because it followed the 2008 debacle (Grade F) of Limas Sweed, Bruce Davis, Tony Hills, Mike Humpal, and doubly tough because it followed a Super Bowl victory, meaning the team was choosing out of the #32 hole. So while all the high-paid national pundits are doling out meaningless grades on the 2012 Draft, away we go:
RD1 (32nd overall), Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DE/DT, Missouri
The skinny: Hood has shown only flashes of high-level play in his first three years in the league, but likely will be stepping into a full-time starting role for the first time in 2012. Not a bust, but not nearly the kind of production you need to get from a first rounder.
RD3 (79th overall), Kraig Urbik, G, Wisconsin
The skinny: Urbik moved into a starting role in 2011 – for the Buffalo Bills. For the Steelers, he couldn’t get dressed for a game, let alone get on the field. Another in a too long line of offensive line busts.
RD3 (84th overall), Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi
The skinny: Snagging one of the most-feared deep threats in the league on the 84th pick? That’s great value, even if he does have an over-inflated opinion of his own worth and leaves as a UFA after this season. However, the ultimate goal of any draft is to bring in players who win a Super Bowl and Wallace failed on that stage vs. the Packers.
RD3 (96th overall), Keenen Lewis, CB, Oregon State
The skinny: A third-round pick should eventually become a starter and Lewis will have a chance to assume that role in 2012, replacing William Gay. He played in all 16 games last year and is a regular special teams contributor. His development has been delayed a bit by an injury so this is really still an incomplete grade, but so far, he’s on the right path.
RD5 (168th overall), Joe Burnett, CB, Central Florida
The skinny: One season in Pittsburgh, now on a CFL practice squad. Enough said.
RD5 (169th overall), Frank Summers, RB/FB, UNLV
The skinny: One of several “next Jerome Bettis” guys who’ve washed out in Pittsburgh, Frank the Tank never got rolling. Still hanging around fringes of Chargers organization.
RD6 (205th overall), Ra'Shon Harris, DE, Oregon
The skinny: The Steelers have gotten a couple starts out of Harris, who’s kicked around between the regular roster, the practice squad and other teams’ rosters. He was considered a developmental prospect then and has shown enough promise to hang around the fringes of the NFL, but not enough to break through.
RD7 (226th overall), A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
The skinny: A personally disappointing result here because watching Shipley at PSU we really thought he could become a late-round steal in the NFL. Instead, he couldn’t make the team.
RD7 (241st overall), David Johnson, TE, Arkansas State
The skinny: Johnson has become a reliable H-Back blocker, who showed signs in 2011 that he could become a little more involved in the passing game. It will be interesting to see what Todd Haley does with him. In any event, a starter in the seventh round (even a starter who only blocks) is a grand slam.
The skinny: In three years’ time, we’ve got two starters and two others potentially stepping in as starters in 2012. That’s balanced by getting almost zilch of the other five picks in the draft, including a costly, costly second-round OL bust. This is not the nightmare 2008’s draft was, but it isn’t good by most draft standards, let alone the Steelers’ standards. Wallace’s ascension as an elite deep threat and David Johnson’s steady play rescue this draft from the scrap heap.
2009 draft overall grade: C