Despite the success of the Penguins and the sort-of resurgence of the Pirates, the Steelers are still at the top of the mountain when it comes to Pittsburgh sports teams. Arguments can be made, but the Steelers still hold the key to the city. With the NFL draft upon us, hope springs eternal. Can the Steelers nail down a pick that will help out immediately? Can they snag a sleeper in the later rounds? Will they reach for a project that doesn’t pan out? Despite the success the Steelers have had, they’ve certainly had their share of busts in the draft. Here are some of the bigger ones:
10. Ziggy Hood (2009, No. 32, Missouri) The defensive lineman’s NFL career isn’t over yet, but he never made the impact the Steelers were looking for up front. Hood had trouble cracking the starting lineup and didn’t do much in his time in Pittsburgh. Maybe that’s why the Steelers let him walk. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2014 season.
9. Ricardo Colclough (2004, No. 38, Tusculum) The Steelers moved up to grab this unknown cornerback in the second round, and it wasn’t a wise move. Colclough struggled with the Steelers — on special teams and defense — before being bounced in 2007. Colclough’s been in the CFL since he was waived by the Chiefs in 2009.
8. Will Blackwell (1997, No. 53, San Diego State) The wide receiver looked to be a can’t-miss prospect after enjoying a fantastic career in college, but he failed to make his mark with the Steelers. Blackwell’s highest output came in 1998, when he caught 32 passes. It was all downhill from there, and he was out of the NFL by 2001. He now coaches high school football in Oakland, Calif.
7. Scott Shields (1999, No. 59, Weber State) Standing around 6-foot-4 with good speed, Shields was expected to bring some physicality to the defensive backfield. However, Shields never seemed to be a great tackler. His rookie season was OK, but his time was short with the Steelers. The safety lasted only two seasons with the team and bounced around a bit after that.
6. Tim Worley (1989, No. 7, Georgia) A stud running back out of Georgia, Worley was expected to carry the load at running back for the Steelers for a long time. After amassing an impressive 770 yards in his rookie season, Worley floundered. The running back had problems holding onto the football and with substance abuse. The Steelers dealt him to the Bears for a fifth-round pick in 1993. More off-the-field issues plagued Worley with the Bears, and he was out of the league by 1994.
5. Limas Sweed (2008, No. 53, Texas) A big target out of Texas, Sweed had all the skills to become a successful NFL wide receiver. Unfortunately, he had problems catching the ball. The drops plagued Sweed throughout his short career with the team. He was released in 2011 and failed to make another NFL roster. He’s presently trying to make his way in the CFL, but that’s not going too well.
4. Alonzo Jackson (2003, No. 59, Florida State) With veteran Jason Gildon getting older, Jackson was selected by the Steelers as a possible replacement. The team looked to transition Jackson from defensive end — where he starred with the Seminoles — but it never worked out. Jackson was released before the 2005 season and had short stints with the Eagles and Giants.
3. Troy Edwards (1999, No. 13, Louisiana Tech) An undersized receiver, Edwards scored a lot of accolades in college before landing with the Steelers. He even had a productive rookie season with the team, recording 61 catches and performing well as a returner. After that, Edwards sank, and he was traded to the Rams in 2002. He played a few more years in the NFL before ending up in the Arena League.
2. Jamain Stephens (1996, No. 29, North Carolina A&T) Arguably the greatest reach the Steelers ever made in the first round, the team drafted the 6-foot-6 offensive tackle as a project. Stephens, though, didn’t last long due to a poor work ethic and a lack of development. He was quickly released by the Steelers in 1999 after coming into training camp out of shape. He landed with the Bengals soon after, and was released in 2002.
1. (tie) Huey Richardson (1991, No. 15, Florida) and Darryl Sims (1985, No. 20, Wisconsin) Richardson should be considered the Steelers’ biggest bust ever, but Sims is a close second. Richardson was an All-American defensive end for the Gators, and the Steelers tried to turn him into a linebacker. The plan didn’t work, and Richardson was out the door. He was dealt to the Redskins the following year for a late draft pick. He tried to catch on with the Redskins, Jets and Dolphins, but was out of the league by 1993. Sims was picked by the Steelers as a defensive tackle, and lasted a little bit longer than Richardson. He played two seasons for the Steelers, but never made an impact. He moved on to the Browns, and was out of the league two years later.
Dishonorable mention (in no particular order): Walter Abercrombie (1982, No. 12, Baylor), Mark Malone (1982, No. 28, Arizona State), Kendall Simmons (2002, No. 30, Auburn), Tom Ricketts (1989, No. 24, Pitt), Aaron Jones (1988, No. 18, Eastern Kentucky), Jeremy Staat (1998, No. 41, Arizona State), John Reinstra (1986, No. 9, Temple), Kraig Urbik, Gabe Rivera (1983, No. 21, Texas Tech).