It is not in our stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. (William Shakespeare)The central question which continues to bedevil Steelers Nation these days concerns the reasons why the Black-and-gold Vince Williams Jersey , despite posting winning records in recent seasons, have been unable to take that final step to claim the franchises seventh NFL championship. This mystery isnt just the elephant in the room its more like the whale in the room. Reviewing the history of Steelers draft picks, youll encounter the interesting fact that the teams first-ever draft choice, way back in 1936, was a halfback from Notre Dame by the unforgettable name of William Shakespeare. During the Depression era, pro football wasnt a particularly lucrative profession, so Shakespeare the football player opted to quit the game to pursue a career in business instead. He was also a decorated, World War II hero in the Army. After the war, Shakespeare resumed his job at the Cincinnati Rubber Company, rising through the ranks to become the firms president in 1960.The famous handle of this original Steelers draft pick brings to mind a crucial distinction between players who enjoy long and stellar careers in the NFL, and those who despite impressive pedigrees coming out of college never quite make the grade at the professional level. So in view of the timeless, existential question posed four centuries ago by the Bard of Avon, its worthwhile examining the Steelers first-round draft picks over a 22-year span from 1997 to 2018 through the lens of Shakespeares famous dichotomy. Heres the list:1997:Chad Scott, Cornerback (8 seasons with Pittsburgh)1998:Alan Faneca, Guard (10 seasons with Pittsburgh)1999: Troy Edwards, WR (3 seasons with Pittsburgh)2000: Plaxico Burress, WR (5 seasons with Pittsburgh)2001: Casey Hampton, NT (12 seasons with Pittsburgh)2002: Kendall Simmons, Guard (Due to injuries, played only 4 of 6 seasons with the team)2003: Troy Polamalu, Safety (12 seasons with Pittsburgh)2004: Ben Roethlisberger, QB (14th season with Pittsburgh)2005: Heath Miller, TE (10 seasons with Pittsburgh)2006: Santonio Holmes, WR (4 seasons with Pittsburgh)2007: Lawrence Timmons, LB (10 seasons with Pittsburgh)2008: Rashard Mendenhall, RB (5 seasons with Pittsburgh)2009: Ziggy Hood, DE (5 seasons with Pittsburgh)2010: Maurkice Pouncey, Center (9th season with Pittsburgh)2011: Cameron Heyward, DE (8th season with Pittsburgh)2012: David DeCastro, Guard (7th season with Pittsburgh)2013: Jarvis Jones Ramon Foster Jersey , LB (4 seasons with Pittsburgh)2014: Ryan Shazier, LB (3 seasons and part of his 4th before serious injury)2015: Bud Dupree, LB(4th season with Pittsburgh)2016: Artie Burns, CB (3rd season with Pittsburgh2017: T.J. Watt, LB (2nd season with Pittsburgh)2018: Terrell Edmunds (rookie season with Pittsburgh)In the big picture, the value of any first-rounder is determined not only by the quality of the players contributions to winning, but also by how long the player remains a viable member of the team. Comparing Pittsburghs first-round draft picks during the 1997-2007 period (11 seasons) to the 2008-2018 period (also 11 seasons), we find the average length of their careers with the Steelers was 8.36 years for the former period (97 to 07) and only 4.63 years for the most recent period (08 to 18). This comparison, of course, is somewhat skewed by the fact that the most recent period includes a few players who likely have several more years remaining in their careers with the Black-and-gold (e.g. Artie Burns, T.J. Watt, Terrell Edmunds and Bud Dupree). Nonetheless, the difference in total years played with the Steelers favors the former period by 41 seasons (92 vs. 51). So, considering that the jury is still out regarding the long-term viability of players such as Burns and Dupree and also considering that the injury-shortened careers of Shazier and Kendall Simmons roughly cancel each other out in this comparison its likely that the average career length of the Steelers top draft picks has shortened by roughly three years during the past decade to a term of approximately five years, compared to eight years in the pre-2008 period. Additionally, when we look at the quality of player contributions to the teams overall success, the earlier 1997-2007 period includes names such as Alan Faneca, Plaxico Burress, Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller and Lawrence Timmons whereas the more recent 2008-2018 period is limited to the names Maurkice Pouncey, Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro and Ryan Shazier. Considering strictly these well-known star performers for the Black-and-gold, the first-round picks from the earlier period currently hold a whopping, seasons-played advantage of 73-27. Thus, it seems highly unlikely that the Steelers first-rounders from 2008-2018 will contribute much more than approximately half as much to the teams success during their careers as their predecessors did.One key reason for this striking difference, of course, is that todays top NFL performers continue to earn larger and larger salaries with each passing year so the tendency is for teams to draft less-costly replacements for star players who have reached the latter stages of their productive careers when their contracts weigh more heavily on the teams salary caps. But another factor is the recognition among top NFL draft picks that its advantageous to use free agency to maximize their income during the relatively brief periods of their lives while theyre playing pro football.No longer retaining key players for 8-12 years, which was commonplace in the past Cheap Cameron Heyward Jersey , theres also been a significant decline in the team continuity which fans had come to expect from year to year. For example, after drafting Heath Miller in 2005, the Steelers went for an entire decade without ever wondering who would be lining up at tight end. But since his retirement, the position has often resembled musical chairs. Similarly, since Casey Hampton hung up his spikes, the Steelers have never been able to find that prototypical nose tackle to replace Hamptons unparalleled run-stuffing and middle-clogging capabilities. Looking at the Steelers defense today, youre seeing a lot more question marks out there than the positions solidly manned.Perhaps most importantly, the Steelers need to recapture the level of first-round draft success they enjoyed previously. In their 2009 and 2013 drafts, for example, the Steelers misfired badly, selecting Ziggy Hood and Jarvis Jones two players who contributed precious little to the teams success. Today, many fans are openly questioning the wisdom of drafting first-rounders Dupree and Burns in consecutive years. If neither of them pans out in the long run with the Steelers and noting the equally dicey pick of running back Rashard Mendenhall in 2008 this ultimately could represent five strikeouts for Rooney U. in their top draft picks out of the past eleven NFL Drafts. Thats certainly not any record to write home about.And despite the fact that LeVeon Bell was a second-round pick, the current soap opera which the team is enduring with No. 26 underscores the fact that exceptional athletic talent, by itself, is no guarantee of success. As outstanding a player as Bell might be, his presence hasnt proven to be the missing element in bringing a seventh Super Bowl title to the Steel City. Championship players are those willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be recognized as the best in their business. Sometimes this means putting the success of the team ahead of personal goals. While every teams No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft is blessed with exceptional athletic talent, what makes any first-rounder a star as well as a long-term contributor to a teams success is the burning desire, not necessarily to be the highest-paid player at his position, but simply being the best in a group of like-minded individuals firmly committed to that ultimate goal.In the decade prior to 2008, the Steelers mostly succeeded in the challenging task of finding players with the requisite talent and attitudes to build an NFL champion. But during the past decade, they simply havent done as good a job in the springtime sweepstakes. Interestingly enough, Ben Roethlisberger the one player Steelers Nation leans on most heavily to haul them up that Stairway to Seven currently is the lone holdover from those exceptional, 1997-2007 drafts. A few years back Kevin Colbert put forth an idea that the BTSC draftniks have adopted as a sort of gospel truth. Paraphrasing, it goes like this:We organize each years BTSC Big Board on that general idea. The Colbert Specials go at the top regardless of position and without much of a discount. Everyone else gets dropped to the extent that Pittsburgh has no need for a player at that position. So - who are the Colbert Specials in this years class, and who are the clear 1st rounders that could arguably get promoted?At this point I have studied somewhere around a dozen public Boards in the process of compiling an initial BTSC Big Board, which will appear after a series of articles addressing the teams wants and needs. The following players are those who regularly appear in the Top 10 of those all-players-for-all-teams lists:DL Ed Oliver, Houston. 62, 290 lbs. Constantly compared to HOF players like Warren Sapp or future ones like Aaron Donald. On 100% of the lists.DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama. 63, 285 lbs. Constantly compared to HOF players like Warren Sapp or future ones like Aaron Donald. On 100% of the lists.DL Jeffery Simmons Cheap Sean Davis Jersey , Miss. St. 64, 300 lbs. The strongest Defensive Lineman in the draft, hed likely be the top dog in most other classes. On around 80%-90% of the lists.EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio St. 63, 270 lbs. On 100% of the lists, usually at #1 overall.CB Greedy Williams, LSU. 61, 182 lbs. The best Corner in the draft. On 100% of the lists.Those five ARE Colbert Specials. Period, end of story. Write them off your wish list because it Aint Gonna Happen. Heres the next tier:MACK ILB Devin White, LSU. 61, 255 lbs. Monstrous ceiling based on athletic potential and a proper linebackers mindset, but also very raw and sometimes indecisive. On around 80% of the lists. SS/FS Deionte Thompson, Alabama. 62, 196 lbs. The consensus #1 Safety in the draft. On around 70% of the lists.EDGE/BUCK ILB Josh Allen, Kentucky. 64, 258 lbs. Remember the debates about LVE in 2018? Get ready for a repeat except this guy has big time Edge rushing talent as well. On around 60% of the lists but with more buzz than almost anyone.For my money those three are also Colbert Specials, bringing the total up to eight (8). I will mourn as they get picked in that 5-12 range before the Steelers could legitimately hope to trade up. Pessimistic? Me? Never. Im going to dream about them even if Im doomed to despair.The next group includes five (5) players that any serious film watcher could fall in love with and defend for Special status.DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama. 67, 316 lbs. What Stephon Tuitt would have been as a prospect if hed been fully healthy. On around 40%-50% of the lists.DL/EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan. 65, 283 lbs. Described by our own Nick Farabaugh as a combination of a bigger T.J. Watt and a smaller Stephon Tuitt but just as raw as either one. On around 40%-50% of the lists.EDGE Clelin Ferrell (Furl), Clemson. 65, 260 lbs. On around 40%-50% of the lists.EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida. 62, 240 lbs. On around 40%-50% of the lists.OL/TACKLE Jonah Williams, Alabama. 65, 301 lbs. The safest and probably the best tackle in the class. On 40-50% of the lists.Two more D-Linemen (!), a 4-3 Edge with play in space ability, and a single offensive player who barely made the list. After that comes the Honorable Mention names who appeared 2-3 times in my research (there were another 5-10 who got mentioned only once, for what its worth). These include:DL Derrick Brown Cheap Ben Roethlisberger Jersey , Auburn. 64, 316 lbs.DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson. 64, 315 lbs.CB Byron Murphy, Washington. 60, 175 lbs.Here are the totals out of 16 players in all:DL = 7 names, which explains why this class is already earning adjectives like legendary. Of course it could also be due to the four or five others that would be late- or fringe 1st rounders in any other year...Edge = 4 names, two of which fit a 4-3 better than a 3-4.CB = 2 names, one all the way at the top and the other marginal.ILB = 2 names, one a Mack and the other a freaky Edge/Buck hybridSafety = 1 nameOL = 1 nameWhat does this mean for Steeler fans? Not much in any direct sense. Its mostly useful as a gauge for how the draft is likely to go in the 19 picks before Pittsburgh goes on the clock. First, its abundantly clear that this class is enormously top heavy on the defensive side, with an astonishing cluster of Defensive Tackles. Given the games recent emphasis on interior pressure its safe to assume that at least six of those seven will go in the Top 20. That leaves a lot of room for Pittsburgh fans, who have no need at DT, to hope for some other almost-Special to drop.Second, Steeler Nation is laser focused on the CB position but that could easily be outweighed by a BPA bargain. The only true Colbert Special is Greedy Williams and he will be looooong gone before the Steelers could even hope to trade up. When the clock rolls around toward 1:20 there are likely to be talents on the Board who are superior to the next cluster of CBs (which our draft Board has in the 1:20 to 2:12 range FWIW).Third, the fans secondary focus has been on ILB. There is one player similar to Shazier (Devin White) and another who seems like a better version of Leighton Vander Esch with serious Edge Rushing chops (Josh Allen). Both men would be transformative dream picks if either came in range, and maybe worth trading up to get. The #3 ILB is Alabamas Mack Wilson, who didnt appear on any Top 10 lists I saw but made it onto a lot of the Top 20s. That suggests he would be a very realistic target to hope for.Next, the Edge class could be another place where Colbert & Co. choose to go. Both Josh Allen and Jachai Polite would fit Pittsburgh to a tee, and two Edge prospects (Brian Burns and Montez Sweat) would fit just as well and appeared on at least half of the Top 20 collections.And finally, the big reaches are going to come from teams desperate for an infusion on offense. History suggests at least one or two more OLs, at least one or two QBs, and probably a WR or two. Lets estimate... five (5?) offensive players in the top 19. Pittsburgh will focus on the defensive side of the ball, and it is a very defense-heavy draft. According to my speculative math that means our worst case scenario is getting a Corner who offers fair value but no real bargain. Names like Byron Murphy and Deandre Baker are leading out of the gate but theyre only a nose ahead of Amani Oruwariye, Julian Love, Kris Boyd, and 2-3 others. The best case scenario is someone you could honestly believe is a Colbert Special in Round 1 (see the list above) followed by a Round 2 trade up to obtain one of those worst-case scenario Corners.I may be doomed to disappointment but Im going to dream! And its going to be fun regardless. Custom Arizona Cardinals Jerseys