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#UltimateDraft: Round 2

The NFL's inaugural draft – or as it was known back then, The Annual Selection Meeting – was held in 1936, and that means the Steelers have participated in 80 of these exercises so far. This series will look at the best of the all-time Steelers' draft picks, based on the round the players were selected.

Today's installment looks at the history of Round 2:

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1950 – ERNIE STAUTNER**: Hall of Fame Class of 1969. The franchise's most significant player during its first quarter-century of existence, Stautner was the first player to have his jersey number officially retired by the Steelers, and the only one until the honor also was bestowed on Joe Greene. Defensive statistics for Stautner's era are sketchy, but in only one of his 14 NFL seasons did Stautner miss a game – one game in 1953 – and he finished with 23 fumble recoveries. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Stautner was named first-team All-Pro once and second-team All-Pro four times.

1953 – JOHN HENRY JOHNSON: Hall of Fame Class of 1987. His route to the Steelers was circuitous, but ultimately he was worth the wait. After being drafted by the Steelers, Johnson played in Calgary of the Canadian Football League for a year and then had stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions in the NFL before finally landing back in Pittsburgh for the 1960 season. In Pittsburgh, Johnson rushed for 4,381 yards and 26 touchdowns while catching 106 passes for another 814 yards and six touchdowns.

1965 – ROY JEFFERSON: Coach Buddy Parker had traded away five of the first six picks of the 1965 draft, and the other brought Jefferson to the Steelers. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Jefferson caught 199 passes for 3,671 yards (18.4 average) and 29 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro in 1969 after finishing third in the NFL in catches (67), second in receiving yards (1,079), and fourth in touchdowns (nine). The following preseason, Jefferson ran afoul of one of Chuck Noll's team rules and was traded to Baltimore.

1971 – JACK HAM: Hall of Fame Class of 1988. One of the transcendent players of his era, Ham was a linebacker capable of covering wide receivers. He started 160 of his 162 career regular season games with the Steelers, during which he had 53 takeaways – 32 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries. Think about that: a linebacker with 32 career interceptions. Ham also had five postseason interceptions, including two in the 1974 AFC Championship Game victory over Oakland that sent the Steelers to their first Super Bowl. Voted to eight Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro six times. Four Super Bowl rings.

1974 – JACK LAMBERT: Hall of Fame Class of 1990. His image is of a mean and nasty middle linebacker, but Lambert was a savvy and intelligent one as well. He was voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1974 and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976 as part of a career that included 45 takeaways – 28 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries – as well as nine trips to the Pro Bowl and six times being named first-team All-Pro. His interception in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams was referred to as the clinching play of that game by Art Rooney Sr. Four Super Bowl rings.

1986 – GERALD WILLIAMS: Probably better suited to playing defensive end in the team's 3-4, Williams nevertheless was the Steelers' full-time starting nose tackle for the seven seasons between 1988-94. He finished his Steelers career with 24.5 sacks, with his single-season high being six in 1990.


1988 – DERMONTTI DAWSON**: Hall of Fame Class of 2012. With the end of Mike Webster's career drawing near, the Steelers used two picks in 1988 in an attempt to find a replacement. They hit the jackpot with Dawson, who was voted to seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro six times. Dawson started 181 games for the Steelers, 176 of them at center, and he was so athletic that he was used to pull and lead a running back around the end. When Merril Hoge left the Steelers for the Chicago Bears in the early 1990s, he was asked by his new team to diagram how the Steelers ran the football. In doing so, Hoge had the center pulling around to lead the back to the outside. When told by the Bears coaching staff that their centers couldn't pull, Hoge responded, "Then you can't run the football like the Steelers."

1989 – CARNELL LAKE: Today, scouts talk reverentially about safeties who can cover like cornerbacks. In his day, Carnell Lake was a safety who covered well enough to actually play cornerback. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Lake finished with 21.5 sacks, 16 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, and 16 fumble recoveries. In both 1995 and 1997, Lake moved to cornerback to help stabilize the Steelers' secondary, and the seasons ended with a trip to the Super Bowl and one to the AFC Championship Game, respectively. He was voted to the Pro Bowl four times, and he was named first-team All-Pro in 1997.

1992 – LEVON KIRKLAND: After becoming a regular in 1993, Kirkland never missed a start in the six seasons from 1995-2000, and when his Steelers' career was over he had 18.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, and eight fumble recoveries. Kirkland was voted to two Pro Bowls, and he was named first-team All-Pro in 1997.

2000 – MARVEL SMITH: He started nine games as a rookie at right tackle, and when his career with the Steelers ended after the 2008 season, Smith had started 108 games at either right tackle or left tackle. He was voted to one Pro Bowl. Two Super Bowl rings.

2002 – ANTWAAN RANDLE EL: The Steelers seemed set on picking Ryan Denney in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft, but when the Buffalo Bills jumped in front of them to pick the BYU product who would be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, the team "settled" for Randle El. An option quarterback in college, Randle El threw it, caught it, and returned it in the NFL, and he made big plays often. The highlight for him and the Steelers was the touchdown pass he completed to Hines Ward to clinch Super Bowl XL. One Super Bowl ring.

Who's on your Steelers #UltimateDraft board? Vote now for your chance to win great prizes!

NEXT: Round 1

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