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One stands above all in Round 3

Posted Apr 30, 2014

In this series, the top picks in Steelers history are listed and debated on a round-by-round basis

Another in a series examining the best of 81 seasons worth of Steelers’ draft picks, designated by round. Today’s installment looks at the history of Round 3:

1949 – BILL WALSH: No, not that one. This Bill Walsh played center at Notre Dame and then for the Steelers where he established himself as one of the NFL’s best during his time. Walsh never missed a game during his six NFL seasons, and he played in the league’s first two Pro Bowls, after the 1950 and 1951 seasons.

1950 – GEORGE HUGHES: Another guy who was one of the top players of his era, Hughes played both tackle and guard for the Steelers, and he was the best player the team had at either of those spots. Hughes never missed a game in his five pro seasons, and was voted to the Pro Bowl twice.

1969 – JON KOLB: In one draft class, his first as Steelers coach, Chuck Noll got his team three linemen who would each win four Super Bowl rings. Kolb was picked after Joe Greene but before L.C. Greenwood, and his specialty was blocking the likes of his defensive teammates. Kolb became a full-time starter in 1971, and for the next six seasons he didn’t miss a game. Kolb ended up starting 135 games at left tackle, including four Super Bowls. Four Super Bowl rings.

1970 – MEL BLOUNT: Some scouts saw Blount as an NFL safety, but Chuck Noll was convinced he could play cornerback. Noll was correct. Historically, Blount’s play at cornerback forced the NFL in 1977 to change some rules to give advantages to receivers, and statistically that play resulted in 57 career interceptions, including an NFL-best 11 in 1975, which was a 14-game season. Blount twice was named first-team All-Pro; he was the 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year; and he was a member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 1989. Four Super Bowl rings.

1982 – MIKE MERRIWEATHER: By the time Merriweather was drafted from Pacific, the Steelers had switched to a 3-4 defense. After becoming a full-time starter in 1983, Merriweather then started 76 games through the 1987 season, during which he had 31 sacks, 11 interceptions, and nine fumble recoveries. He held out for the entire 1988 season and was then traded to Minnesota on the day of the 1989 NFL Draft.

1990 – NEIL O’DONNELL: One of three QBs in franchise history to start a Super Bowl for the Steelers, O’Donnell’s three interceptions in that game prevented them from winning it, but his 2,970 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 regular season games helped them get there.

1992 – JOEL STEED: Maybe the first pure nose tackle ever drafted by the Steelers, Steed needed a full season to learn what it took to play the position at the NFL level. Steed would start 103 games for the Steelers during which time he amassed 303 tackles and 9.5 sacks. He was voted to one Pro Bowl.

1994 – JASON GILDON: He was a pass-rusher, plain and simple. Outside linebackers in a 3-4 can be deployed in a variety of ways, but Gildon’s forte was rushing the passer. During his 10 seasons with the Steelers, Gildon became the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks with 77. He was voted to three Pro Bowls, and in 2001 he was named first-team All-Pro.

1998 – HINES WARD: When it was over, Ward had 1,000 catches for 12,083 yards, and 85 touchdowns in 217 regular season games, plus another 88 catches for 1,181 yards, and 10 more touchdowns in postseason games. The MVP of Super Bowl XL, Ward was voted to four Pro Bowls. He holds every significant receiving record in franchise history. Two Super Bowl rings.

1999 – JOEY PORTER: A big part of the emotional makeup of the team that won Super Bowl XL, Porter finished his Steelers career with 60 sacks, 11 interceptions, and eight fumble recoveries. He had three sacks in the playoff run to Super Bowl XL, six total in the postseason. Porter was voted to three Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro once. One Super Bowl ring.

In the accompanying video, Bob Labriola and Mike Prisuta each highlight the career of one of these third-round draft picks. The sheer greatness of Blount has both of them agreeing that he was the best No. 3 pick in franchise history.

NEXT: Round 2

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