With the NFL Draft being less than two weeks away, the speculation on who the Pittsburgh Steelers will decide on has completely run wild. The Steelers hold the 24th overall pick in the first round and have kept relatively quiet on just who that selection might be. The obvious needs are the positions we see the Steelers showing mild interest in –addressing our offensive line and running back positions seem to be atop the Steelers wish list at this point, and for good reason. After watching Steeler football all of last year, it seems that those two positions were the ones that could have elevated this team to a whole new level in 2020. Whether or not the organization goes in either direction is purely speculation at this point and does not mean that the organization won’t go after a player of need at a different position if the Steelers see the potential fit.
No matter who ends up being drafted with our first round selection, the opportunity to become a Pittsburgh Steeler is one that should not be taken lightly. This is a storied franchise, dating back to the early years of football, and as we know, we are tied for the most Super Bowl championships in the league and are looking to continue to add to that for years to come. The point of the draft is to address the needs of the team that will help propel them to the next level the following year. The Steelers ability to do so and the team’s ability to develop “homegrown” talent comes highly touted with a resume to go along with it. Many who find themselves being drafted by the black and gold end up finding out the grass isn’t always greener on the other side one way or another.
A good example of this is former Steelers WR Mike Wallace. Wallace was the 84th overall pick in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft who made a name for himself relatively quickly while in Pittsburgh. Many can recall Ben Roethlisberger finding Wallace bursting past the opponents’ secondary with his natural speed on many touchdowns. He was a vital part of our offensive game plan for those four years he was here. It’s been years since he put on the black and gold, but in a recent interview with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Wallace shared how much his time as a Steeler meant to him.
“Once we got to Pittsburgh it was like a movie. I saw Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu. It was crazy. Santonio Holmes, James Harrison. It was like being around the Lakers. I didn’t grow up seeing or being around NFL players. My first time ever being around them, I was around the biggest superstars in the game. I had to keep it together. I was on their team and I couldn’t be like a fan. At the same time I was like, man, I am a kid coming from college and this is amazing being on the team with the biggest names in the game and the greatest franchise.”
After his four successful years in Pittsburgh, Wallace himself took a five-year $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins where he never really lived up to his expectations. After showing tremendous playmaking ability and speed with the ball in his hand after the catch while in Pittsburgh, Wallace’s production didn’t translate as smoothly in Miami. He only played two full seasons with the Dolphins and didn’t come close to matching his production level in years prior. Wallace found himself on three teams in six years ending his career in Philadelphia as an Eagle in 2018. He never found himself statistics wise as successful. Needless to say, I bet Wallace would never have chosen to leave if he had to do it over again.
“It meant everything to play for the Steelers. I got to play for the pinnacle of NFL teams. Coach Tomlin was the best coach I ever had at any level. The most real coach, genuine coach. That is something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. That organization, the Rooney family. Everything. Once you go and play for other teams, there is nothing like playing for the Steelers. I can promise you that. People won’t want to hear this, I loved playing in Baltimore. It was great. But nothing compares to playing for the Steelers. Not even close. The way they run the program, the way Coach and Kevin Colbert work together. The family environment, the love, the genuine feeling, you can’t get that everywhere. I played for the best organization in sports and that is something I will carry with me forever in life.”
Regardless of who ends up being drafted with the 24th overall pick, we can assume the Steelers did their homework on the prospect. I’m sure each fan has their own wish list of players they want this team to draft on April 29th. Some predictions are probably even the same, but no matter who’s name is called, it should give that individual player some comfort knowing the team that called their name is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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