The Steelers drafted two cornerbacks and a running back who did not live up to their billing
When the Steelers selected Dave Brown in the first round of the 1975 NFL draft, I was six years old. I really have no recollection of him as a Steeler but I vividly remember him as a player for the Seattle Seahawks. In 1976, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks entered the league, there was an expansion draft.
Brown was one of the players who was left unprotected and thus eligible for the expansion draft. I can only assume that we thought Brown would not be selected, but the fact that we left a second-year player and former first-round pick unprotected was quite odd to me.
Brown went on to have a pretty solid career, playing fifteen seasons and amassing sixty-two interceptions. Unfortunately, only one season was played as a Steeler with no starts to his credit. For these reasons, I would offer that Brown is the fifteenth biggest draft bust.
Coming in at number fourteen on our list is another cornerback, Ron Johnson, who was selected in the first round of the 1978 draft. Johnson played in ninety-one games, starting sixty-two of them while nabbing thirteen INTs over his seven-year career.
If Johnson had not been a first-round pick, I would offer that his career would have been solid except for the fact that as a former first-round pick of the Steelers, I think the expectations were higher than what the reality was. Frankly, there were times when I questioned what Johnson was doing on a particular play.
It's not that Johnson was 'bad", but, again, a former first-round pick should have had more of an impact than he did, as far as I'm concerned. Let's continue our discussion with the players who comes in at number thirteen.
Greg Hawthrone was the Steelers first-round pick in the 1979 draft. Hawthrone played nine years in the NFL, five of those for us. He never seemed to be able to 'get into a groove' as a running back, having started only eleven games and having amassed a total of five hundred and twenty-two yards on the ground.
Hawthrone also played some wide receiver, which is interesting because I thought Hawthrone's best attribute was the ability to catch the ball. Despite being listed at 6'2" and 228 lbs., Hawthrone just didn't look like a 'big back' like Franco Harris who was essentially the same size as Hawthrone.
Let's continue our discussion by looking at who comes in at numbers twelve, eleven, and ten, respectively.