A Blast from the Past: Fifth Round Picks, Part 2


Jim O’Connor, USA Today Sports

Since the Steelers had three picks in 2010 in the fifth round, I gave them their own post. We’ll continue with the 2011 pick, LB Chris Carter. He made the 53-man squad for three years, which is pretty good for a fifth-round pick, but only started one game during that time.

Three picks later in the 2011 draft the Ravens took DE Pernell McPhee with their compensatory pick, and McPhee played really well for them until they lost him to salary cap hell when they hit free agency.

Which brings up a pet peeve of mine, the fact that people extolled to the heavens the work of Ozzie Newsome back in those days, and compared his handling of the salary cap to that of the Steelers. Well, of course he handled it well. He had a franchise quarterback on relatively modest rookie contract. Whether you think Joe Flacco is elite or not, something which apparently concerns a lot of citizens of Maryland, he was good, durable, and cheap.

All of a sudden Newsome doesn’t look like such a genius, because he’s got to manipulate the dollars left over after paying Flacco the big bucks. This has forced him to let some guys walk they would have liked to have kept. Colbert is looking a lot better in retrospect, I assume, to those people who for so many years compared him unfavorably to Newsome.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what ever happened to Chris Carter? The Steelers released him in 2014, the Colts picked him up and played him in a few games that season, then released him. The Bengals picked him up, he played in 13 games in the 2015 season, and they cut him. The Ravens picked him up, and there he remains. So while this isn’t a big-time success story like Pro Bowler Pernell McPhee, he’s had a decent NFL career.

On to 2012. The Steelers chose RB Chris Rainey. Ah.
This was one of their attempts, so I assume, to find a return man to at least eventually replace Antonio Brown. The Steelers had apparently already figured out they had something special in Brown, as they gave him a big contract extension before the season began. Although there were niggling character concerns with Rainey, Maurkice Pouncey vouched for him and the Steelers drafted him.

I want to say something to the Steelers’ offensive brain trust, whoever they may be (besides, naturally, Ben and Todd Haley.) If you have a little guy, like, say, Demarcus Ayers, and he’s too small to block well (which is fair enough, as he’s half the size of the guys he’s trying to stop), and you put him on the field only when you plan to give him the ball, you might just as well go up to the official and tell them you would like to give up one of your downs and go straight to, say, third down. At least that way there is essentially no possibility of anyone getting hurt.

I understand the temptation to try to find other ways to use a guy who is taking up a precious roster spot, but if he is doing a good job on returns, let that be enough. If he isn’t, don’t put him on the 53-man roster. Unless you can find another way for him to be productive during your precious offensive downs, like, perhaps, gnawing at the ankle of opposing DTs, just let him stay on the bench.

And how the new touchback rule is going to effect the equation, I wouldn’t know. But I’m inclined to say that if you find a guy who does well on punt returns, and that’s all he can do, it’s still worth it to reduce, just a little, the chances of AB getting injured. He’s that important.

And I wasn’t up for researching the results of every play in which Chris Rainey or Dri Archer was lined up on offense, but I can’t even remember a successful one. If anyone has data to the contrary, bring it on…

Rant over. We all know what happened with Chris Rainey. He wasn’t terrific, he screwed up, he got cut.* These things happen. They got more out of him than anyone got out of my fifth round pick, CB Donnie Fletcher. The Jets picked Fletcher up as a UDFA, he played in a few games for them (but mostly on their practice squad) and has been in the Arena League ever since. Apparently my DB assessment skills are even worse than the Steelers’ have been…

*Rainey played a year for the Colts, a year for the Cardinals, and now plays in the CFL.

2013: The Steelers chose CB Terry Hawthorne. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports loved the pick:

Third-day gem: I love fifth-round corner Terry Hawthorne to fit in nicely in what the Steelers want from their corners.

Of course, this is the same Pete Prisco who downgraded the Steelers rather severely for their “questionable move” in taking Le’Veon Bell. Prisco said he “takes too long to get to the line of scrimmage. He is more of a plodder.” So there’s that.

Neal Coolong of BTSC was also enthusiastic:

He looks a lot like the prototypical Steelers mid-round cornerbacks. Good size, got some tools, needs some work. They have a good track record of developing corners in recent years, so gotta feel good about Hawthorne being worked into a contributor.

In actual fact Hawthorne was released at the end of training camp, and that was his NFL career. I’m pretty sure my guy would have done better than that, except that I didn’t make it as far as the fifth round in 2013. Sorry about that.

For the seventh round picks in 2010-11, click here; for 2012-13 click here. For the 2010 sixth round pick, click here, and for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 picks, click here. Finally, for the 2010 fifth round picks click here.



One comment

  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Chris Carter was a popular player for awhile but he never did seem to make the step up to starter.

    If Ayers can work as a receiver, he should be fine. A WR isn’t expected to block on the plays when he doesn’t get the ball. The problem with Rainey and Archer was that as RBs, they would need to block on plays when they didn’t get the ball and that wasn’t happening.


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