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Six former Steelers we didn’t know were still in the NFL

How many times have you heard an NFL player’s name and thought to yourself, “I didn’t know he was still in the league.”

It turns out there are plenty of former Steelers who are now toiling in obscurity for other teams. It’s not like the Steelers made a mistake letting any of these guys get away, but considering their lack of an impact in Pittsburgh it’s hard to believe they’re still getting an NFL paycheck.

Tony Hills

Who would have thought that the last remaining member of the Steelers’ 2008 draft class would be Tony Hills?

An offensive tackle drafted in the fourth round, Hills signed with the Lions this month. Left tackle Taylor Decker could be out for most of the season after a standout rookie year, and the Lions are bringing in just about any live body they can to create a competition to replace Decker.

The Lions, according to MLive.com, are Hills’ 11th team. He’s only appeared in games for five of his previous 10 teams. He didn’t get on the field for the Steelers until 2010, when he played in four games. Hills played in one game for the Broncos in 2011 and made his only career start for the Colts in 2012. He was a Cowboy in 2014 and made it into 19 games for the Saints in 2015 and 2016.

The Steelers needed offensive line help in the 2008 draft, but chose Rashard Mendenhall after he unexpectedly dropped to No. 23 in the first round. Then they thought they were getting a steal in the second round when they drafted Limas Sweed. He was a flat-out bust. In the third round, they were enamored with linebacker Bruce Davis and his 24.5 combined sacks at UCLA in 2006 and 2007. He never started a game in his four-year career.

The 32-year-old Hills has outlasted them all and holds the torch for the Steelers’ worst draft of the Kevin Colbert era.

Evander Hood

Evander “Ziggy” Hood wasn’t exactly a bust, at least not as much of a bust as Jarvis Jones. Hood had 11.5 sacks in five years for the Steelers while Jones, who’s now a Cardinal, had six in four years.

Hood never missed a game during his Steelers career. He was drafted with the last pick in the first round in 2009. He started 30 games in 2011 and 2012, but was never anything special.

Two years after drafting Hood, the Steelers drafted another defensive lineman late in the first round and that time got it right. Cameron Heyward eventually made Hood expendable and in 2014 Hood signed with the Jaguars. He faded into oblivion after going on injured reserve in 2015 and getting released. Hood caught on with the Bears in 2015 and appeared in two games, then landed with the Redskins last season.

Hood played in the season opener last year against the Steelers and started 14 games. Despite being one of the worst run defenders in the league last year according to Pro Football Focus (h/t Rotoworld), Hood was re-signed for another year.

A first-round draft pick needs to be more prominent than Hood has been less than a decade later.

A.Q. Shipley

The Steelers knocked it out of the park when they drafted Maurkice Pouncey in 2010, but the only other center drafted by Mike Tomlin also was a starter in the NFL last season even if his journey to a starting job was a lot longer than Pouncey’s.

A.Q. Shipley was drafted in the seventh round by the Steelers out of Penn State in 2009. His short arms, which are less than 30 inches long, is one of the reasons he lasted that long, and that “short-armed” label has followed Shipley throughout his career.

Shipley spent 2009 on the practice squad before the Eagles picked him up and put him on their practice squad in 2010 and 2011. He finally got on the field with the Colts in 2012. He was traded to the Ravens in 2013 then picked up by the Colts after the Ravens released him in 2014.

As he is wont to do, Bruce Arians picked up a former Steeler when the Cardinals signed Shipley in 2015. He won the starting job in 2016 and played all but five snaps.

The 31-year-old’s performance earned him a two-year contract. If he plays for another year or two like he did last year, it will be hard to forget he’s still in the league.

Chris Scott

Not only is it easy to forget that Chris Scott is in the NFL, it’s easy to forget he was ever a Steeler.

The Steelers drafted the guard in the fifth round in 2010 out of Tennessee.

Scott played in two games, both on special teams, in 2011 and was released that season. He surfaced with the Bills in 2012 and has been with the Panthers since 2013. He started eight games that year and four last season.

The Steelers really didn’t need Scott because his former teammate, Ramon Foster, has worked out just fine at guard after going undrafted in 2009.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter‘s most memorable play as a Steeler is one he didn’t make.

A linebacker taken in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, Carter started the first three games of the 2012 season in place of James Harrison, who was recovering from knee surgery. In Week 3 at Oakland, he could have intercepted a Carson Palmer pass in Raiders territory with a legitimate shot at a pick-six, but the ball bounced off his hands. The Raiders, who finished 4-12 that year, won the game 34-31.

The Steelers finished 8-8 that season, two games out of a playoff spot. Had Carter held onto that pass, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Steelers would have made the playoffs. It probably would have changed his history more than the Steelers’, because he’s still looking for his first interception. And his first sack.

Carter was released before the 2014 season and since then has played primarily special teams for the Colts, Bengals and Ravens. A player termed “Von Miller Lite” by Rotoworld when he was drafted could only get a one-year deal with the Redskins for 2017.

B.W. Webb

B.W. Webb was a fringe player on the 2014 Steelers, and he’s still hanging on in the NFL.

The cornerback wasn’t good enough to crack the rotation of a secondary that ranked 27th against the pass. He played just four snaps on defense that year and 35 on special teams.

A fourth-round pick by the Cowboys in 2013, Webb will play for his fifth team in five years this season. He has two career interceptions, one with the Titans in 2015 and one with the Saints last year. He also broke up 11 passes last season after breaking up just three in his career before that.

Webb was signed as a free agent by another defensively challenged team, the Bears. It’s the first time since 2013 that he’s joining a new team in the spring instead of being picked up after getting cut just before the season.

It would be nice to think that every cornerback that makes the Steelers’ 53-man roster this year is better than Webb, but considering the riff-raff that has populated that position in recent years, that’s not a guarantee.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets.

 

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