Hall of Fame players Steelers could have drafted but did not

CANTON, OH (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh Steelers
Derrick Brooks Credit: Rick Stewart/Allsport /

The Steelers drafted a Tight End with the pick that preceded this Hall of Fame Linebacker

In the 1995 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Mark Bruener, a TE out of Washington, with the 27th pick of the first round.  With the 28th pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted what some fans may have deemed to have been an undersized Linebacker out of Florida State.

Derrick Brooks, the aforementioned LB, was listed at 6’0″, 235 lbs.  Definitely too small to have played in the Steelers 3-4 scheme, right?  At the time Brooks was drafted, we probably thought we were set at both ILB and OLB.  Additionally, Brooks was not a pass rusher; that was not his forte.

His forte lay in pass coverage.  In the scheme that the Buccaneers ran at that time, the ability for Brooks to cover was of paramount importance.  Granted, Brooks would probably not have played OLB for us, but he would have been a nice replacement for say Chad Brown, who left us after the 1996 season.  Brooks could have easily played ILB in our scheme.

While Bruener had what I would consider to be a ‘nice’ career for the Steelers, he neither made a Pro Bowl nor was selected All-Pro.  Conversely, Brooks made 11 trips to the Pro Bowl, was named All-Pro 5 times, was named the 2000 Walter Payton Man of the Year, was named the 2002 Defensive Player of the Year, and was a one time Super Bowl champ.

After having started 221 out of 224 games in which he played over a 14-year career, Brooks was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.  Maybe we did not feel like we needed to draft a defensive player in 1995, but how nice would it be right now to have another Steelers linebacker in the Hall of Fame?

Let’s continue our discussion.