Things start to spiral downwards by the time the 80s roll around
1980 (Pick 28): Mark Malone (QB), Arizona State
Terry Bradshaw was getting older so the hope was Mark Malone could become the next starting quarterback for the Steelers. He would become the quarterback, but it would not lead to much success. Bradshaw would have his career end similarly to Ben Roethlisberger's injury and the club started to struggle.
1981 (Pick 17): Keith Gary (DE), Oklahoma
Just a bizarre story with this first round pick by the Steelers as Keith Gary did not sign with them to start his career. He went to Canada to play up north for a couple of years before he finally joined Pittsburgh. Gary did not do anything notable during his time with the Steelers, but he was a role player on defense for his six years in the NFL.
1982 (Pick 12): Walter Abercrombie (RB), Baylor
Overall, Walter Abercrombie was not a bust, but he wasn't what the Steelers had hoped for either. He produced a few strong seasons with the team that totaled over 1,000 scrimmage yards. Most of his career left some meat on the bone and Abercrombie was out of the NFL only seven years after being selected 12th overall.
1983 (Pick 21): Gabriel Rivera (DE), Texas Tech
The infamous 1983 NFL draft where the Steelers selected Gabriel Rivera over the hometown kid, Dan Marino. Rivera would barely play for the club before his career was cut short due to a motor vehicle crash. Marino would go on to have a Hall of Fame career, which will always make Pittsburghers wonder what could have been.
1984 (Pick 23): Louis Lipps (WR), Southern Mississippi
One of the more underrated players in the history of first rounders by Pittsburgh is Louis Lipps. He played on some terrible offenses, but he was still a dynamic playmaker at receiver. Lipps was a nice value selection here and went on to have a great career that saw him get elected to the Pro Bowl and All-pro teams multiple times.