Draft Picks:
1) DT Ziggy Hood
3a) OL Craig Urbik
3b) WR Mike Wallace
3c) DB Keenan Lewis
5a) DB Joe Burnett
5b) RB Frank Summers
6) DL Ra'Shon Harris
7a) C A.Q. Shipley
7b) TE David Johnson

Depth Chart

Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Draft Picks

The toast of this draft class, is 3rd round WR Mike Wallace who makes the Offense hum and helped Roethlisberger get to "Elite" QB status.

1st rounder Ziggy Hood is a very solid Pro and leader on Defense.

Craig Urbik and Keenan Lewis are nice starters for 3rd round picks, even though Urbik is starting for another team

The Steelers found a gem in 7th round pick TE/H-Back David Johnson.

Frank Summers, Sonny Harris and Joe Burnett were all disapointments, but late round picks.

After three years , this draft gets a "A-" grade.


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1st Round - Evander "Ziggy" Hood Defensive Tackle, Missouri, 6'3", 305#

2011 Evaluation: Ziggy had another very solid season. He again filled in for Aaron Smith when Smith went on IR after week 3. There is some talk of moving Ziggy to Nose Tackle since Casey Hampton is going to be 36 and is having ACL surgury. I think that would be a mistake. It would be like making 2 positions worse. Trend: Steady

2010 Evaluation: Ziggy is "the man" and made no one remember Aaron Smith once he got hurt in Week 5. He had several sacks, hurries and was stout against the run in 2010. He should replace Smith next year. Trend: Up

2009 Evaluation: He came on very strong towards the end of the season, getting several sacks and clogging up running lanes. Ziggy looks to be getting comfortable in the Dick LeBeau Defense. Where he will play in 2010 is hard to see now. Aaron Smith looks to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery, so Ziggy will most likely rotate in from the bench, again. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Notes: Hood has seen playing time since Aaron Smith was put on IR. He seems disciplined, yet not dominating, against the run. In his pass rush, he is relentless although he has yet to record a sack. The way defensive linemen are getting hurt, Ziggy should see more playing time. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes : Ziggy has played well - getting pressure and a couple of sacks. He is studying hard behind Aaron Smith. Joe Greene said, "It looks like we picked a good one." Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: He has the personality of a Teddy Bear and the motor of a V-8. A great leader in college, he should fit in very well with the Steelers as a hard working, good-guy.

The test will be him sliding from Defensive Tackle to End in the Steelers' 3-4 defensive scheme. Eventually, he should replace Aaron Smith.

Draft Grade: B-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B+

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #1: LB Ray Maualuga (Bengals), C Max Unger, (Seahawks), OT, Phil Loadholt, (Vikings), DE Fili Moala, (Colts)
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3nd Round - Craig Urbik Guard, Wisconsin, 6'5", 325

2010 Evaluation: Urbik was cut after the 2009 preseason and is now the starting right guard for the Buffalo Bills. Why did the Steelers let him go? They could surely used him this past year. Trend: Out and Up

2009 Evaluation: Very disappointing that Ramon Foster, an undrafted free agent, started several games at left guard while Urbik failed to even dress for one game. This is mostly because Foster can play Guard or Tackle while Urbik seems to be strictly a Guard, but it is still disappointing. Training Camp in 2010 will be big for Urbik to see if he can really play in the NFL. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Notes: The kid has yet to dress for a game. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes : Urbik has had trouble adjusting to the speed of the Pro game but this isn't unusual for an O-lineman. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: Urbik will probably go about his business during his first 2 years and then, without anyone noticing, he will be starting for the Steelers and do VERY well.

He can play Right Guard or Tackle which opens up the possibility of Willie Colon moving to Right Guard one day and Urbik playing Right Tackle.

Draft Grade: C+, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B-

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3rd Round - Mike Wallace Wide Receiver, Ole' Miss, 6'0", 195#

2011 Evaluation: Opposing defenses finally wised up. Wallace was on pace for nearly a 2,000 yard receiving season for the first half of the season. Then, he was double covered on nearly every play. Wallace's stats dropped but he was recognized on the field and off the field as an extremely dangerous player. As a result, Antonio Brown had a 1,000 yard receiving year becuase of the double teams on Wallace. The only question going forward is: how much will the Steelers have to pay him for a long-term contract? Trend: Steady

2010 Evaluation: Wallace is now the difference maker in the Steelers offense. He puts fear into the opposing team even though many opposing corners refuse to back down and give him big cushions. Even though coach Mike Tomlin calls him "one trick pony" - meaning he only knows how to run deep routes - Wallace is showing the ability to run underneath crossing patterns. But make no mistake about it, this guy makes the Steelers passing game open up becasue he can fly deep. This guy should be a pernnial Pro Bowler if he stays healthy. Trend: Up

2009 Evaluation: Simply the best rookie season for a wideout since Louis Lipps in 1983. Wallace has great speed and decent hands. He made the game-winning TD catch against Green Bay, so he is clutch and can be counted on when the game is on the line. The challenge for the coaching staff will be to figure out more ways to get him the ball in 2010. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Notes: Wallace is everything that Limas Sweed should be, and much more. What a dangerous weapon he is, already. With many big catches, 2 TDs and several runs from scrimmage, he is the best Rookie WR for the Steelers since Louis Lipps. The Steelers are ranking 5th in Offense and he is a big reason why. Trend: Way Up

Pre-Season Notes : Wallace looks like a big-time "keeper". He is blazing fast and has good hands. He will definitely return kickoffs and will see a lot of time as the 4th WR. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: This guy can fly and the Steelers hope that one day he can become a deep vertical threat and replace Nate Washington, who signed with Tennessee as a free agent.

He is also adept at returning kickoffs. Wallace holds the Ole Miss records for single game, season and career kickoff return yards. He should be doing this for the Steelers by opening day, barring injury.

Draft Grade: B+, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B+

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3rd Round - Keenan Lewis Oregon St., 6'1", 208#

2011 Evaluation: What a turn of events! Lewis is now almost a starting NFL cornerback. He looks like he can play the postion! Lewis played many snaps on the outside and had several pass break ups for the NFL's #1 ranked pass defense in 2011. Wow. The Steelers aren't nearly as desperate now for corners in the 2012 draft.Trend: Up

2010 Evaluation: Lewis couldn't beat out Anthony Madison in the Dime defense for the Super Bowl. That's how bad it has gotten. I can't see this guy lasting through pre-season next year. Trend: Down

2009 Evaluation: Lewis saw the field sporadically, and only on special teams punt and kickoff coverage units. Apparently, he had a back injury linger through the season which slowed his progress. William Gay was begging to get benched towards the end of the season, but Lewis wasn't ready. 2010 training camp will be big for him: can he play CB in NFL? The 2010 draft should reveal the opinion of the Steelers in this question. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Notes: He may have dressed for a couple of games and played Special Teams, but I don't remember seeing him. The Steelers need help in the Secondary as William Gay is a very weak link. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes: Looks good and solid. Nice cover skills for a tall guy. Made the team, but is looking more and more like last year's 3rd round pick, Bruce Davis, who was cut. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: Keenan was the high school teammate of Mike Wallace (not the 60 Minutes reporter).

A big buy who also runs very well, the Steelers think he is like Ike Taylor but with better hands.

The team has been stymied the last two drafts in their efforts to draft a big, speedy corner in the first round and so had to settle for "second-tier" talent which is enough to win with. Still, I know in my gut that Tomlin would love to get a big, physical Mel Blount-style corner down the road.

Draft Grade: B+, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B

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5th Round - Joe Burnett, Cornerback/Punt Returner, Central Florida, 5'9", 190#

2010 Evaluation: Little Joe was cut in preseason. Trend: Down and Out

2009 Evaluation: Small Joe saw lots of playing time towards the end of the season as the Steelers D gave up several fourth quarter leads, mostly through the air. Unfortunately, Small Joe was a part of the problem. At the end of a loss to Oakland he could have sealed a vistory by intercepting a ball that hit him between the numbers. That is the difference between the Playoffs and sitting home. Given Burnett's small stature and weak performance in 2009, the Steelers need to find more depth in the secondary. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Notes: Joe has played almost every game on Special Teams coverage units and is doing well. He has also played a little bit in the Dime. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes: The kid has skills as a defender and he is a natural returner. He had one interception and a blocked field goal to preserve the shut out against the Bills. However, he also fumbled twice on punt returns. Stefan Logan has beat him as the team's punt returner, but Burnett made the team this year instead of veteran Anthony Madison. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: After getting a kickoff returner in Wallace, the Steelers then turned their attention on getting a punt returner.

Burrnett may have played a lot of corner at college, but his immediate future in the NFL is surely as a punt returner where he has a good shot of making the team.

However, players drafted as punt returners usually don't pan out for the Steelers. See Willie Reid.

Grade: C, Predicted Grade after 3 years: C-

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5th Round - Frank Summers, Running Back, UNLV, 5'10", 230#

2010 Evaluation: Frank the Tank was cut in the preseason. Trend: Down and Out

2009 Evaluation: Frank was placed on IR with a bank injury after playing in a couple of games as a Fullback, even starting one. Trend: Up

Pre-Season Notes: The "Tank" is getting outplayed by free agent Issac "Redzone" Redman for the short-yardage duty, but the kid has potential. Maybe not as a running back, but certainly as a blocking fullback.Trend: Steady

Made the team over Carey Davis because of his blocking skills and ability to play special teams. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: This pick is the best of the group.

The Steelers had one of the worst short yardage units in the NFL in 2008. Although Mr. Summers won't be opening any holes by blocking, he can certainly open some holes by brute force, of which he seems to have plenty.

Summers can also step in right away and play special teams in punt and kickoff coverage units.

Finally, Summers catches the ball well. FB Carey Davis should be worried.

Grade: A-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B

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6th Round - Ra'Shon "Sonny" Harris, Defensive Tackle, Oregon 6'4", 285#

2011 Evaluation: Cut in training camp . Trend: Down and Out

2010 Evaluation: Practice Squad player for Carolina and the Steelers. Trend: Down

2009 Evaluation: There are high hopes for Sonny in 2010. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Notes: Sonny was claimed by the Carolina Panthers before the Steelers could put him on the Practice Squad. Now that Aaron Smith got hurt, Sonny is on the regular team. He has yet to suit up, but he may soon. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes: The real surprise for me in this draft class. This kid can play in the 3-4. Give him a year or two and he could be suiting up regularly on Sunday. Trend: Up

Unfortunately, there wasn't room on the roster for Sonny. He was cut and quickly snapped up by the Carolina Panthers. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: Harris anchored the Oregon D-line as a defensive tackle.

He will try to make the team then sit on the practice squad for a year or two while he learns to play defensive end in the 3-4 and one day contribute on the field.

However, the odds are not with "Sonny" Harris. Many others before him have failed in this path. See Orion Harris, Shaun Nua and Eric Taylor.

A native of Pittsburg, California.

Grade: C, Predicted Grade after 3 years: C-

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7th Round - A.Q. Shipley, Center, Penn St., 6'1" 300#

2009 Evaluation: AQ didn't stick with the taxi squad at the end of the season and I don't see him coming back for 2010 training camp. Trend: Down and Out

Mid-Season Notes: The kid has yet to dress for a game. He's learning on the Practice Squad for now. Trend: Steady

Pre-Season Notes: Has gotten a lot of playing time with the second team due to injuries to Justin Hartwig and Darnell Stapleton. Was cut and added to the Practice Squad. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: A native of Pittsburgh (Corraoplolis) who idolized Hall of Fame Center Mike Webster, even though Webster had long stopped playing for the Steelers by the time A.Q. was a kid.

Won the Rimington Trophy for the top Center in College ball, Shipley dominated the famed USC D-line in the 2009 Rose Bowl. His draft stock fell because of his lack of height (he's not even 6'1") and short arms. 2-3 inches taller and this kid is picked in the first day of the draft.

Grade: B-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B+

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7th Round - David Johnson, Tight End, Arkansas St., 6'2" 260#

2010 Evaluation: Johnson moved up to the #2 Tight End since Matt Spaeth signed with the Bears. He really is still a blocking back. He caught several balls in 2011 but he doesn't have any speed or wiggle to evade tacklers. The team is looking for undrafted Wesley Saunders next year to move up to #2. Trend: Up

2010 Evaluation: Johnson was a very solid H-back blocking very well for Mendenhall. Trend: Up

2009 Evaluation: A very good season for Johnson. He's an excellent blocker who is dependable and delivers a jolt to linebackers he meet in running lanes. Perhaps the 2nd best Rookie in 2009. Trend: Up

id-Season Update: Johnson is doing well as an H-Back. He can block very well and has good hands. Looks to be an upgrade over Carey Davis. Trend: Up

Pre-Season Notes: Another nice surprise: this tight end can block! With the knee injury to Sean McHugh, Johnson is the 3rd TE/FB this year. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: The Steelers seem to Draft a tight end whenever they don't know what else to do. See Matt Spath and Charles Davis. I can't imagine this pick sticking around past training camp, barring injuries, but that's why they play the game...

Grade: D-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: F


1 Year Draft Grade: B

Draft Day Analysis - Draft Grade: B-

The 2009 Draft re-stocked the defensive and offensive lines with new blood and boosted the Special Teams.

While many fans are disappointed the team did not get a highly regarded Center in the first round, the Steelers did get local favorite A.Q. Shipley who could surprise people a few years down the road. Plus, the team got a very competent lineman in Craig Urbik in the third round who will probably take over for Darnell Stapleton at Right Guard in 1-2 years.

On defense, the team got Ziggy Hood, who should one-day replace Aaron Smith in the line, and Sonny Harris who has the potential to stick as a reserve.

Perhaps the biggest immediate impact to the team from this Draft will come in Special Teams where the Steelers drafted Cornerback Joe Burnett to return punts and Wideout Mike Wallace to return kickoffs.


©Mark Berger,