The Steelers landed a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer back in 2003 with Troy Polamalu. Here’s why he would be well out of Pittsburgh’s reach in a re-draft.
You could make the case for Troy Polamalu being the greatest player in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first-ballot Hall-of-Famer was a four-time All-Pro, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and Defensive Player of the Year award winner despite starting just 5 full seasons out of 12 in the NFL.
But despite his extensive injury history, it wasn’t hard to see why Polamalu would be taken so high in a 2003 NFL re-draft. According to the Bleacher Report article from Brad Gagnon, the Steelers legendary safety lands with the New York Jets with the 4th overall pick in the draft.
Though that’s much higher than the 16th overall pick Pittsburgh originally moved up to land him at, having three players ahead of him still seems like too many.
In the re-draft, Tony Romo was Gagnon’s first overall selection to the Cincinnati Bengals. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback will go down as one of the best undrafted free agents to ever play the quarterback position. Carson Palmer was taken with the second pick in the re-draft – in large part due to the importance of the position. He lands with the Detroit Lions in the doover.
What I can’t get over, however, is Gagnon’s selection with the third overall pick – Texans star receiver, Andre Johnson. Though Johnson was a terrific player and one of the better receivers of the modern era, Polamalu’s impact to the Steelers defense was undeniable. Despite being healthy for most of his 14-year NFL career, Johnson made just two All-Pro appearances.
The Texans were making the third overall selection, and they would like to draft Johnson all over again, but given the opportunity to take one of the most impactful defensive players the league has seen, I don’t think Houston could pass on that.
The Steelers get a far worse safety
In this hypothetical draft, the Steelers no longer have a reason to trade up for Polamalu, and they end up going with long-time NFL safety, Quinten Mikell. Mikell didn’t become a full-time starter until his fifth NFL season for the Eagles. He earned one Pro Bowl in 2009 before joining the Rams and Panthers to close out his career.
I think it’s safe to say that the Steelers made the right choice back in the 2003 NFL Draft with Troy Polamalu, and they may have two less Super Bowl trophies if he never would have been drafted to Pittsburgh.
There are certain drafts I would love to be able to doover for the Steelers, but this is not one of them. Troy Polamalu went on to become a transcendent, Hall-of-Fame player who changed the game as nobody else could.