Pittsburgh Steelers greatest late round draft gems of all time

Antonio Brown Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Antonio Brown Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /
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Donnie Shell #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Donnie Shell, S, 1974 NFL Draft: Undrafted, South Carolina State

Shell is one of the many unsung heroes that played on the legendary Steel Curtain defense. The front of that squad received accolades constantly and for good reason. That secondary played lights out and rarely got recognized. Shell was one of the most underappreciated as the undrafted free agent and joined the team in the best NFL draft class of all time.

His college was very small and that caused him to go unselected in every round of the draft. That did not deter this player as he made an amazing career that had him playing alongside fellow Hall of Fame players. What this former undrafted player did not realize was that he created his own Hall of Fame resume. It was announced this past year that he will be inducted into Canton this summer. It was long overdue as the blistering safety has earned his keep.

It was a different era of play as the game was much more gritty and tough. Smash-mouth football as some would call it back in the 70s. Shell will be remembered for when he broke Earl Campbell’s ribs while the feared running back started to turn the corner. Shell ran through the big back and cracked his ribs. The tough hitting safety finished his career with 51 interceptions and four Super Bowls.

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The Steelers have been able to find diamonds in the rough late in the NFL draft. It is never easy to find those players but Pittsburgh has a knack for it.