In NFL Draft, most media attention is directed at the top ten picks. From highly-touted quarterbacks to offense-changing linemen, it is inevitable that all eyes are on these Draft picks. But the real fun begins when most casual NFL Draft watchers shut off their TVs and go to bed. This season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have one middle first-round pick and one early second-round pick that could define the direction of the team for years to come.
With picks No. 17 and 32, the Steelers will need to find exceptional talent outside the top ten. While this is a tall task, it looks like history is on the Steelers’ side.
Looking back on the past ten years, No. 17 isn’t the best spot. However, No. 32 has been the diamond in the rough in terms of consistently producing star talent.
Steelers fans should know about pick 32’s historical dominance first-hand, as Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was selected there back in 2018. Since falling to the 32 spot, Jackson has dominated, earning himself two Pro Bowl selections and an MVP in 2019.
But Jackson wasn’t the only high-powered Louisville quarterback taken at pick 32. Teddy Bridgewater was selected by the Vikings at pick 32 back in 2014. While his career was riddled with injuries, Bridgewater still represented pick 32 well, earning himself a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. Looking back even further, Drew Brees was a pick 32 alumni before he went on to have a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Quarterbacks are definitely not the Steelers’ top priority at pick 32. But if the Steelers want to fill position needs, then they can still look to pick 32 for solutions. Saint offensive tackle Ryan Ramcyzk was selected there in 2017. Ramcyzk then dominated with New Orleans, earning a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2019 and two Second-Team All-Pro selections in 2018 and 2020.
Meanwhile, Pick 17 is arguably less dominant historically than pick 32. The pick boasts some talented players, such as Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and even current Steelers safety Keanu Neal, but it does not compare to the unexpectedly good selections at pick 32.
In the last 10 seasons, there have been eight Pro Bowl players, five All-Pro players and one NFL MVP taken between those two slots. With the historic talent coming out of those picks, it is entirely possible that the Steelers next franchise player comes out of pick 17 or 32.
Of course, they could also repeat their performance from the last time they picked No. 17, when the Steelers drafted a dud in Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
PICK NO. 17 HISTORY
2022 OG Zion Johnson, Los Angeles Chargers
2021 OT Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas Raiders
2020 WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys*^^
2019 DT Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants*^
2018 S Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers**^^^
2017 DE Jonathan Allen, Washington Redskins^^
2016 S Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons^
2015 DE Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
2014 LB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens*****^^^^^
2013 LB Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers
2012 CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals
PICK NO. 32 HISTORY
2022 S Lewis Cine, Minnesota Vikings
2021 DE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 RB Clyed Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
2019 WR N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
2018 QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens†*^^
2017 OT Ryan Ryamczyk, New Orleans Saints
2016 DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Cleveland Browns
2015 DT Malcolm Brown, New England Patriots
2014 QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings^
2013 S Matt Elam, Baltimore Ravens
2012 RB David Wilson, New York Giants
† NFL MVP *All-Pro selection ^Pro Bowl Selection