There’s no question that the Pittsburgh Steelers have done a great job with their first-round picks of late. For the most part, the majority of them are either Pro Bowlers or were quality contributors at one point. Since the year 2000, 10 Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round picks went to the Pro Bowl and a number of others (like Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress) weren’t too far off. Since they’re so good at drafting and building rosters, it’s one of the reasons why sportsbooks like BookMaker always have them among the favorites to win the AFC North each year.
In this article, though, we’re taking a look at the other side of the coin: the busts. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and recall all of the worst first-round picks in Pittsburgh Steelers franchise history.
2009 NFL Draft: 32nd Overall
It’s not that Hood was a bad player but he never blossomed into a star that many people thought he could be. Remember, the Steelers had ferocious defensive lines at that time with guys like Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith wreaking havoc. Hood eventually got there but it took him until 2011 to be a full-time starter and he wasn’t a real impact player for long. He never had more than three sacks in a season and was later benched for Cam Heyward in 2013.
2013 NFL Draft: 17th Overall
The Steelers whiffing on a linebacker? That’s something you rarely hear about.
Few teams have had more success at finding impact linebackers than the Steelers but Jarvis Jones just never amounted to much. He was a stellar pass rusher for the Georgia Bulldogs and the hope was that would continue in the NFL. At the time, the Steelers needed a replacement for James Harrison.
Jones didn’t wind up starting until the 2015 seasons and that was when Jason Worilds retired. He only totaled three sacks in the next two seasons. The Steelers ended up letting him go and he never got another shot in the league.
2016 NFL Draft: 25th Overall.
The Steelers were hoping to plug a leak in the secondary when they drafted former Miami Hurricanes corner Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Instead, he proved to be one of the worst first-round picks the Steelers have ever drafted.
After an OK rookie year, Burns got the full-time starter’s role in 2017. He was an absolute bust right off the bat, getting burned up and down the field. By the end of 2018, Burns was already behind Coty Sensabaugh and Cam Sutton, who weren’t exactly that good themselves. He fell even further down the depth chart in 2019.
The Steelers had hoped to get something out of him but Burns just wasn’t good at the NFL level in any scenario.
1991 NFL Draft: 15th Overall
Richardson was actually the final first-round pick in the Chaz Noll era and he’s one to remember…or should we say, forget. He was a beast of a player in terms of measurables, coming in at 6’3, 238 pounds, but he finished his career playing just five games with three total tackles. How is that even possible?
1989 NFL Draft: 7th Overall
Who could ever forget Tim Worley? After all, this was the man who was once described as “The Next Herschel Walker”. His NFL career finished off with a 3.9 yards-per-carry average with a total if five touchdowns.
Worley actually had an OK rookie regular season, compiling 770 rushing yards and five touchdowns. However, his fumble in the 1989 playoffs to the John Elway-led Denver Broncos basically cost the team the AFC Championship Game. He would last just three more seasons with the Steelers and would only rush for 1022 more rushing yards for the rest of his NFL career.
1980 NFL Draft: 28th Overall
Why draft Dan Marino (in 1983) when you have Mark Malone? Yes, that’s right. One of the main reasons the Steelers opted not to draft the future Hall of Famer in 1983 was because they had Malone on the roster, whom they used a first round pick on in 1980. In fairness, the team still had Terry Bradshaw on the roster as well as backup Cliff Stoudt, but regardless, Malone never panned out.
The Arizona State product got in the lineup for eight games in 1981 but completed just 51.1% of his passes and had three touchdowns with five interceptions. He got more of a full-time look starting in 1984 and he wasn’t much better. He finished with 16 touchdowns, 17 interceptions but still completed just 54.0% of his passes. 1985 would be his best campaign in terms of touchdown-to-interceptions as he had 13 versus seven. However, his dubious NFL career ended up with just 60 touchdowns, 81 interceptions and a paltry completion percentage of 50.9%.