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2024 NFL Draft

Bill Belichick Lauds Steelers Historic 1974 Draft Class: ‘Greatest of All Time’

Bill Belichick went back in his memory bank to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers historic 1974 draft class on Thursday.

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Lynn Swann

The Pittsburgh Steelers just selected Troy Fautanu in the 2024 NFL Draft. Fautanu is a great value pick that could help the Steelers’ offensive line solidify. They hope he can become a great starter. But 50 years ago, in 1974, the Steelers would have perhaps the greatest draft of all time.

The class headed by Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert, Mike Webster, and a free agent signing, Donnie Shell, would become heralded. All five of those players became Hall of Famers, and it’s rare for one team to grab five starters in a draft, let alone Hall of Famers.

When talking about the draft and what it is meant to be, former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick joined the Pat McAfee Show on Thursday and talked about that class, using it as an example of how special draft classes can be.

“People talk about the draft, and they talk about how great the ’83 draft was and all of that, but it’s really about team-building. It’s about how you build your team. 50 years ago, this was the greatest team-building draft of all time, the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Belichick said. “Swann, Stallworth, Lambert, Webster, and Donnie Shell, he was a free agent, in one draft. Five, five Hall of Famers in one draft. You talk about building a team. Now, what happened after that? Four Super Bowls.”

Swann recorded 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns from 1974-82, which puts him at sixth-best in receptions and receiving yards and fourth-best in receiving touchdowns in Steelers history.

Swann’s acrobatic and incredible catches in the Super Bowl are what he is recognized for. In Super Bowl X, Swann made his famous “levitating leap,” where he twisted and moved his body to make a fantastic catch off a deflection from Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mark Washington.

Stallworth recorded 537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns from 1974-1987, which puts him third best for receiving touchdowns and yards and fourth best in receptions in Steelers history.

Stallworth would combine with Swann to make an impressive receiving duo during the Steelers’ Super Bowl runs, and like Swann, he made incredibly important catches for the team. A 73-yard touchdown catch by Stallworth in Super Bowl XIV was the go-ahead score, and it was even more impressive because Stallworth had to make the reception on his other shoulder.

Lambert was one of the most feared defensive players of his generation and considered one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game, playing a big part in the great Steelers defense known as the Steel Curtain. During his career, 1974-84, he was defensive captain for eight years and prior to his final season, only missed six career games.

He was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1974, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976, six-time First Team All-Pro in 1976 and from 1979-83, a two-time Second Team All-Pro in 1975 and 1978 and a nine-time Pro Bowler from 1975-1983. He also is featured on the NFL 1970s and 1980s All Decade Teams and was placed on the NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.

Webster was the Steelers center from 1974-88  led the offensive line throughout their four Super Bowls and is considered by many to be the greatest center of all-time.

Webster was a seven-time First-Team All-Pro from 1978-84 and was a nine-time Pro Bowler from 1978-85 and 1987. Like Lambert, he is also on the NFL 1970s and 1980s All Decade Teams and the NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.