Pick Steelers should have made in '08

PITTSBURGH -- ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., with the benefit of hindsight, recently authored a do-over of the first round of the 2008 draft based on which players should have been taken.

The Steelers would probably love a mulligan from that year as that is one of the most forgettable drafts in franchise history.

Wide receiver Limas Sweed and outside linebacker Bruce Davis, taken in the second and third rounds respectively, were complete busts. The draft produced just one starter in running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Mendenhall led the Steelers in rushing for three consecutive seasons (2009-11), and his best year helped the Steelers reach the Super Bowl in 2010. Mendenhall rushed for a career-high 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns that season.

All in all, the Steelers could have done a lot worse with the 23rd overall pick in 2008, especially when the selection of Mendenhall is juxtaposed with the players Pittsburgh took in later rounds.

Mendenhall was not among those whom Kiper said should have been 2008 first-round selections. But Mendenhall, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals last March, was listed among the players Kiper considered for the first round.

The player Kiper had the Steelers taking in 2008 with the benefit of a re-draft was Seahawks defensive tackle Red Bryant.

The 6-4, 323-pound Bryant gets overshadowed a bit in Seattle, but he is a main reason why the Seahawks have been so stout on defense the last couple of seasons and led the NFL in total defense (273.6 yards per game) in 2013.

Interesting enough, the Steelers took a long look at Bryant prior to the 2008 draft. The Texas A&M product was among the players they brought in for a pre-draft visit, and they had three cracks at him in the draft.

Bryant lasted until the latter part of the fourth round and went nine picks ahead of where the Steelers took offensive tackle Tony Hills.

Here is whom Kiper writes should have been the top five picks in 2008: 1. Quarterback Matt Ryan (Dolphins); 2. Quarterback Joe Flacco (Rams); 3. OT Ryan Clady (Cardinals); 4. RB Ray Rice (Raiders); 5. OT Jake Long (Chiefs).

Here is how the first five picks of the 2008 draft played out: 1. Long; 2. DE Chris Long; 3. Ryan; 4. RB Darren McFadden; 5. DT Glenn Dorsey.