6. Alonzo Jackson
Heading into the 2003 Draft the Steelers knew that their Defense needed a lot of retooling, and the secondary was the place that needed the biggest makeover. Luckily for the Steelers, they were able to work out a trade with Kansas City and move up 11 spots to select Future H.O.F. Troy Polamalu in the 1st Round. In addition, they were able to nab a little known, but athletic freak of a Cornerback project from Louisiana-Lafayette named Ike Taylor in the 4th. The trade for Polamalu however left the Steelers without a 3rd Round pick, so the 2nd Rounder needed to be a solid Defensive selection that would help their secondary that was simply awful in 2002.
Unfortunately, OLB Alonzo Jackson never quite panned out for the Steelers and left many fans like myself befuddled that they would even select him or any other OLB at all. One thing that Jackson never had going in his favor was the fact that he never really got a chance to play, and his timing was just way, way off. After Jason Gildon played his last season in 2003, Jackson was unable to unseat Clark Haggans for the starting OLB spot opposite of Joey Porter. Coupled with the fact that Haggans and Porter played so well from 2004-2006, Jackson was never able to outplay or show anything that the Steelers felt was worth keeping. Probably one of the most overlooked factors in Jackson’s jettisoning out of Pittsburgh was one freak injury to Clark Haggans’ finger that opened the door and a roster spot for an Undrafted Free Agent OLB that had been cut twice before and was hungry for his chance to shine on Special Teams and kick some tail on Defense: James Harrison. I guess the best way to look at Jackson’s short and unspectacular career with the Steelers is simply this: if one cannot separate themselves during preseason, or one cannot rise to the challenge of competition, one will be left in the dust when it comes to sticking on the roster no matter what pick one is selected with.
5. Willie Reid
After the selection of Santonio Holmes I figured that the Steelers had found not only a capable WR for the future that could be a #2 and possibly a #1 when Hines inevitably retired, but also a guy that could be a weapon as a Punt Returner that was needed after Antwaan Randle El left for Washington. Thus, the Steelers would no longer be seeking any help at either position in the Draft. Well I was dead wrong, and in the 3rd Round of The 2006 N.F.L. Draft the Steelers took WR/PR Willie Reid out of Florida State. Reid’s Draft stock shot up as a specialist after a solid 2005 campaign followed by an outstanding performance by him against Penn State in The Orange Bowl where he returned a punt for a TD. When the Steelers made the Reid selection I was as dumbfounded then as I still remain to this day. They should have at least sought a Corner or an Offensive Lineman at that point in the 3rd Round, and there were plenty of players still left on the board. Jahri Evans and Donald Penn were available Tackles, and even if they still wanted to go WR, Brandon Marshall was there at pick 95.
Anyways, Reid failed to impress both the Cowher and Tomlin coaching staffs during his two year tenure in Pittsburgh at both the WR and PR positions. In his two seasons, Reid recorded a total of 4 Catches for 54 yards, 7 KR’s for 146 yards, and 1 PR for 11 yards. That’s it, Reid accumulated less than 225 total yards from 2006-2007 combined. The Steelers would have been better off taking that 95th pick and flushing it down the toilet.