- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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This is the second installment of the last 15 players who have been taken 15th overall in the NFL draft, the pick the Steelers have this year. I reviewed the most recent picks at No. 15 overall on Monday and here they are:
2013: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints
2012: Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks
2011: Mike Pouncey, C, Dolphins
2010: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
2009: Brian Cushing, LB, Texans
Here are the five picks that preceded those players at No. 15 overall:
2008 -- Branden Albert, OT, Chiefs: Albert gave the Chiefs six seasons at left tackle after playing guard at the University of Virginia. Albert is not an elite left tackle but he’s a pretty good one and he made his first Pro Bowl in 2013. Albert is headed to free agency, and he will be among the most coveted offensive tackles on the open market. Even if he leaves Kansas City, this still was a good pick for the Chiefs.
2007 – Lawrence Timmons, LB, Steelers: The Steelers will gladly take it if they get another player with the 15th overall pick the caliber of Timmons. He piles up tackles, is good in coverage and is also capable of making big plays. Timmons, who has started 53 consecutive regular-season games, is a model for how the Steelers like to bring along the players they draft. He played mostly special teams as a rookie, assumed a bigger role in the defense his second season and became a full-time starter in 2009. Timmons has been entrenched in the starting lineup since then and is the Steelers’ best defensive player.
2006 – Tye Hill, CB, Rams: This looked like a good pick after Hill made the PFWA All-Rookie team. But he regressed after his first season and the Rams were willing to trade Hill for a seventh-round draft pick after the former Clemson standout spent just three seasons in St. Louis. Hill, who had four interceptions for the Rams, qualifies as a bust, especially since St. Louis took him four picks before three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
2005 – Derrick Johnson, LB: One of the top 3-4 inside linebackers in the NFL, Johnson seems to get better with age. Johnson made his third consecutive Pro Bowl after recording 107 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2013. Johnson, 31, also intercepted two passes in helping lead Kansas City’s resurgence. This pick has been a big hit for the Chiefs, especially with Johnson still playing at such a high level.
2004 – Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers: The former LSU star burst onto the scene as a rookie, catching 80 passes for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. He fell off a cliff after that, never coming close to the numbers he put up as a rookie. Clayton battled some injuries as well as inconsistency and never built on what he did his first season in the NFL. The Buccaneers released him after six seasons, making Clayton a miss with where Tampa Bay took him in the draft.