When it comes to trying to project talent that can make the transition from one level of competition to another, it’s always a serious gamble, whether it’s the NFL or any other professional sport.
Every draft class will leave a trail of first-round busts in its wake, even among players who were nearly universally regarded as highly likely to make a successful transition to the pros. Even the best talent evaluators from time to time can be made to look foolish in this at times unpredictable process.
But hoping that you get the talent that you think you’re drafting isn’t the only source of unpredictability on draft day, and I think that we may see even more out of the ordinary moves take place than has been the norm, if the past couple months of transactions and movements have been any indication.
Of course, I’m talking about draft day trades, with teams moving up and down the board in order to get the player they were targeting or moving back to get more ammunition if they’re not in love with any of the players available at their time of selection.
There are also always the surprising selections, especially in the first round, that take you off guard, which often tends to come in the form of a quarterback being taken earlier than expected.
Which really isn’t a surprise. The position is such that there tends to be a sharp demarcation between the elite and the ordinary after the first round. The problem is teams fooling themselves into thinking that they are drafting a first-round quarterback as long as you draft him in the first round.
The long and short of this is that we don’t know what is going to take place between the first overall selection and the 21st, although we can probably reasonably predict that the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t be moving up or down, which they have only done a couple of times in recent history.
When those surprising moves are made, say, for a quarterback, or for another position that the team in question is not in need of, that knocks one more player that the team may be interested in down one slot, widening the pool of potential quality candidates they will have to choose from when they are on the clock.
For one reason or another, the early days of this league year have set a precedent for the unusual, creating expectations of the unexpected, and if that continues to translate on draft day, then it should prove for an interesting first round.
Whether it proved fortunate or not in hindsight, the Steelers have been ‘running to the podium’ of late when they’ve had the opportunity to draft a player they were worried wouldn’t be there, such as David DeCastro and Jarvis Jones. While there are some players who may fall due to off-field issues, I’m wondering if we will see one of those legitimate ‘special’ talents falling down far enough to the Steelers to get him.