Past results don’t guarantee future performance, but it’s not a secret that Kevin Colbert likes drafting players who played in the Big Ten conference. Of the Steelers 167 draft picks since Colbert joined the team in 2000, 36 (22%) have been from the Big Ten. Of those players, eight were Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Big Ten has also produced seven of the team’s 20 first-round picks, a whopping 35%. All but one offensive skill position the team has drafted in the first-round under Colbert has come from the Big Ten: WR Plaxico Burress, WR Santonio Holmes and RB Rashard Mendenhall. The only aberration was Virginia (ACC) tight end Heath Miller in 2005. Joining the other Big Ten players on the list of first-rounders are DE Cameron Heyward, LB Ryan Shazier, LB T.J. Watt and LB Devin Bush Jr.
Following behind the Big Ten is the SEC with 27 and then the ACC with 23. Since 2000, the SEC has put 176 first-round picks into the NFL, only four of those have come from the Steelers: C Maurkice Pouncey, LB Jarvis Jones, OL Kendall Simmons and LB Bud Dupree.
The ACC has had 102 first-round selections in the NFL Draft since 2000. Of those 102, four went to the Steelers: TE Heath Miller, LB Lawrence Timmons, CB Artie Burns and S Terrell Edmunds. The ACC is also home to the school with the second most overall picks under Colbert, Florida State. Six seminoles have been drafted by the Steelers, more than any other school except for Ohio State.
The Steelers have drafted 21 players from the Pac 12 conference, most notably Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu and longtime offensive line stalwart David DeCastro.
Of the Power 5 conferences, the Steelers have largely stayed away from the Big 12, with only 15 conference aligned players drafted in the last 21 years. That 15 is only three more than the MAC, which has 12, including future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.
The Big 12 produced two first-round picks in NT Casey Hampton and Ziggy Hood from Missouri in 2009 (although since then Missouri has moved to the SEC, at the time it was still playing in the Big 12).
Steelers players drafted by conference since 2000
Big Ten: 36 players – 7 1st round picks / 5 2nd round picks / 4 3rd round picks / 6 5th round picks / 5 6th round picks / 5 7th round picks
School with the most picks – Ohio State (8)
SEC: 27 players – 4 1st / 3 2nd / 5 3rd / 4 4th / 5 5th / 3 6th / 3 7th
Most popular school: Tie, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida (5)
ACC: 23 players – 4 1st/ 4 2nd / 4 3rd / 2 4th / 2 5th / 5 6th / 2 7th
Most popular school: Florida State (6)
Pac 12: 21 players – 2 1st / 2 2nd / 3 3rd / 2 4th / 4 5th / 6 6th / 2 7th
Most popular school: Tie, Oregon, UCLA, Utah (3)
Big 12: 15 players – 2 1st / 2 2nd / 2 3rd / 4 4th / 0 5th / 2 6th / 3 7th
Most popular school: Texas (4)
MAC: 12 players – 1 1st / 0 2nd / 3 3rd / 0 4th / 1 5th / 5 6th / 2 7th
Most popular school: Tie, Central Michigan, Kent St., West. Michigan (2)
American: 9 players
Mountain West: 6 players
Conference USA: 5 players
Sun Belt: 3 players
WAC: 2 players
Most popular schools
Ohio State (8)
Florida State (6)
Penn State (4)
Virginia Tech (4)