Pittsburgh Steelers: 15 greatest first-round picks of all-time

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Louis Lipps of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

The first round of the NFL Draft is the deciding factor between success or failure for many teams. Here are the fifteen best first-round picks the Steelers have made.

Like all NFL teams, the first round of the NFL Draft is the most important. That’s where some of the country’s most highly talented prospects enter the next chapter of their careers. It’s also where teams find players that carry them for years to come.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ve found a number of Pro Football Hall of Famers in the opening round of the NFL Draft. From Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw, to what appears to be the next generation of stars in Artie Burns and T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh has never had trouble finding diamonds in the rough during the first round.

Ranking them, though, it’s easy to see how the Steelers have maintained such dominance throughout history. Some of the names that have come and gone through the first-round of Pittsburgh’s opening ballots turned into name the NFL cherishes to this day.

The higher up this list gets, the better the names. With this team’s history of success, it’s impossible to squeeze all their first-round gems into a top-15. Meaning the ones who did make it, are not only legends in the Steel City, but members of the NFL that will never be forgotten.

Steelers 1984 first-round pick: WR Louis Lipps

When you think about Steelers wide receivers, one of the first names that should come to mind is Louis Lipps. The speedy, do-it-all, wideout from Southern Miss made a name for himself in college by catching, running and returning. Then, after four standout years as a Golden Eagle, Lipps found himself as a first-round pick for the Steel City.

The No. 23 pick in the 1984 NFL Draft, Lipps headed to Pittsburgh as a wide receiver/return specialist. His breakaway speed made him a threat to any defender. Had quarterback Terry Bradshaw not suffered a career-ending elbow injury, imagine what Lipps’ numbers would have looked like in black and yellow. It took a while before Ben Roethlisberger got to the Steel City, but he eventually got there.

Lipps started his career off as hot as it gets, earning NFL Rookie of the Year and being named to the Pro Bowl and as a First-Team All-Pro member. He followed that performance up with another Pro Bowl/All-Pro season in his sophomore campaign.

The Steelers wideout finished his career with 6,019 yards and 39 touchdowns, playing all but one year with Pittsburgh. He retired a two-time Steelers team MVP in 1993.