Steelers Throwback Thursdays: 5 players who SHOULD have been Steelers
Before the NFL officially gears up for the 2021-22 season, Steel City Underground will be taking fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Throwback Thursdays”.
Recently, I had a little bit of offseason fun writing about the “Top-3 Free Agency Busts” in modern Steelers history. It’s frustrating to look back on the guys who simply didn’t work out the way we hoped they would in Pittsburgh, but interesting nonetheless.
I figured, why not follow up with another frustrating-but-interesting offseason exercise: players we all thought should’ve been Steelers!
In this post, I want to look instead at some great players the Steelers never quite managed to rope in, but who simply seem to have belonged in Black and Gold. In some cases, Pittsburgh had a shot at these players. In others, they’re simply guys I’d have liked to see as Steelers.
All in all, though, these are the players I felt could’ve been good fits in Pittsburgh – sticking with more current or modern era players of course. Enjoy!
5. Mark Andrews
This first pick is a legitimate regret, in the sense that the Steelers could well of wound up with Andrews (whereas others on this list are more like pipe dreams).
I don’t have a sense of whether or not too many other Steelers fans linger on this one, but for me it stands out. In 2018, the team was still reeling from missing the mark with replacing Heath Miller. Additions such as Jesse James, Ladarius Green, and Vance McDonald hadn’t quite worked out at this point when the NFL Draft rolled around.
I’m not sure anyone saw Andrews going to the Ravens or surpassing his draft classmate, and Baltimore’s first round pick, Hayden Hurst.
The Steelers had selected S Terrell Edmunds with pick 28 overall (first round), then came back for WR James Washington in the second (60 overall) before trading and moving up to snag Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph in the third round, with pick 76 overall.
Andrews would be taken 86th, with the Steelers again on the clock at 92 and having just missed out.
As Steelers fans are aware, Andrews has become one of the league’s most reliable pass-catching tight ends accumulating over 2,100 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons.
4. Matt Forte
Enter the random personal pipe dream category. Throughout most of the 2000s, I’m sure I don’t need to tell any readers here, Pittsburgh had excellent play at RB. We had the ultimate power back in Jerome Bettis (who still had some wheels on him), and then an overachieving speedster in Willie Parker. Then, with no disrespect toward Richard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer, things fell off a little bit before the Le’Veon Bell era.
That this happened right around when Matt Forte was coming into his own always makes me wonder if the Steelers could have had any sort of play for the long-time Bears star.
Beyond simply being a great back who could have taken the reins from Bettis and Parker, Forte just felt like a Steeler. He was an ideal combination of power and speed who could run any way he was needed, functioned well as a receiver, and always gave his all. It’s a bit of a random wish, but I’d have loved to see him in Black and Gold.
Where he is now: Forte retired and went just about straight to NBC Sports Chicago, where he’s an analyst on the Football Aftershow alongside some fellow former Bears. And honestly it just makes me wish we’d had him more. You have to love the guys who stay in the family.
This one’s largely in the pipe dream category for sure.
The New England Patriots drafted Richard Seymour sixth-overall in 2001, and the Steelers weren’t picking until 19th (where honestly, they received great value in Casey Hampton).
But when I think back on the best defensive players we’ve seen in the last couple of decades, it’s hard not to covet Seymour — right down to wondering if there was any kind of draft night trade to be made. This is especially maddening to think about given that there was a Pittsburgh-New England trade in that draft.
At any rate, Seymour is another guy who just feels like a Steeler to me — even if he once punched Roethlisberger in the face (reportedly the two had laughed it off). He was simply the kind of rock-solid defensive monster I imagine suiting up in Pittsburgh.
Where he is now: Seymour’s been retired for nearly a decade now, so no one’s really tracking him day-to-day. That said, a recent Jon Sofen article on Poker.org discussing athletes in poker revealed that he’s essentially become a professional card player in his retirement.
The article noted several hundred thousand dollars in winnings and one or two high-profile tournament performances. (That Seymour seems to just be a winner only makes me wish harder that we’d had him!)
2. D.K. Metcalf
I’ll keep this one short, because D.K. Metcalf is pretty fresh on everyone’s mind these days. I’ll only point out, in case people have forgotten, that the Steelers selected Diontae Johnson a mere two picks after Seattle snagged Metcalf in the 2019 draft.
Was a trade up possible?
It’s impossible to know and easy to say in retrospect. I don’t mean to discount the significant potential Johnson has flashed, but Metcalf was a freak of nature that we were regularly speculating about having the Steelers draft in many of our mock drafts and podcasts.
So, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been!
Here again we have another draft miss, and one any fan in his or her right mind ought to regret.
It was in the 2000 draft that, with their highest selection in years, the Steelers selected Plaxico Burress out of Michigan State. Urlacher, for those who don’t recall, went one pick later to the Bears – with whom he would become a legend.
It’s really interesting to look back on, but wasn’t at that apparent of a whiff at the time.
While it was a little bit of a reach for Pittsburgh to take a receiver, especially after selecting Troy Edwards 13th-overall in the previous draft, Burress was considered a dynamite prospect. Even last year, a Post-Gazette recap of the draft reminded us that Burress was seen by some as a “more physical version of Randy Moss,” and who had been dominant at Michigan State.
It’s not quite fair to say it was a bad pick.
However, Urlacher would become one of the best defensive players of the 21st century and it’s plausible he would’ve done the same if he played in Pittsburgh. (And of course, we would’ve never gotten that sick mow-down highlight by Jerome Bettis!)
Where he is now: Urlacher is retired and in the Hall of Fame. (You can lookup the rest of his exploits but I won’t mention them here!)
So, that’s my list! What about yours? Are there any players you’ve always wanted for the Steelers who just haven’t wound up in Pittsburgh?