The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a great spot in the upcoming draft when it pertains to possibly trading down. The teams directly behind them all could be in the market for one of the top running backs in the draft, be it Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon or Georgia’s Todd Gurley. Detroit, Arizona, Baltimore and Dallas all lurk behind the Steelers, and in some ways, the alignment of them could be looked at as “running back row” since they all could use upgrades at the position.
Detroit, who picks right behind Pittsburgh at 23, has Joique Bell in their backfield, and although he offers a multidimensional threat as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield, he may be best suited as a change-of pace or goal line back. There were several games last season where he failed to clear 40 yards on the ground, and although he helped fantasy owner by getting into the end zone, upgrades could be had via the draft. If Gurley, who’s projected by some to go in the top 10, is somehow available, Detroit may be tempted to pounce, allowing Pittsburgh to move back a pick and acquire additional assets in the process. They could easily pick up an extra third or fourth-rounder, and everybody knows their defense could use as many infusions of youth and talent as it can get.
Arizona is also a running back-needy team, as they currently really only have the diminutive Andre Ellington, who was injury-prone last season and may not be anything more than a change-of-pace back at the NFL level. If Bruce Arians could get his hands on Gurley or a homerun-hitter like Gordon, it could elevate their offense to new heights. They’re already rumored to be one of the teams interested in the services of Vikings’ star Adrian Peterson, so obviously they’re looking to upgrade at the position. What better way to do so than to leapfrog the Lions, and assure themselves of a talented runner? This one is a very perceptible scenario as well, considering Arizona is often viewed as “Pittsburgh West.” There are many ties between the organizations, mainly Arians as the ex-offensive coordinator for the Steelers and Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, holding the same position in Arizona.
Dallas is another team who could use some help at the position, as they currently have Darren McFadden slotted as their starter, which screams for help, considering he just last year played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. Even if the Cowboys field the most imposing line in the league, the team could be willing to add a stud runner to their stable, and to ensure they do, would have to leapfrog the Lions. Or they could look at it in an entirely different light, in that they could draft a David Johnson or a T.J. Yeldon later in the draft, and simply plug them in behind their line to the tune of 1,200 yards a season.
Then we have the Ravens, and the notion of them being a trade partner of the Steelers sounds as likely as a Bigfoot sighting, but stranger things have happened on draft day. They just recently re-signed Pro Bowler Justin Forsett, but general manager, Ozzie Newsome, has an eye for talent and if the chance arises for an upgrade, he’d likely be all over it. There are a number of cornerbacks who most likely will be available near the end of round 1 for Pittsburgh, possibly Marcus Peters and Jalen Collins, so a trade down could make sense. It’s even possible outside linebacker, Shane Ray, tumbles that far, or further, in light of his recent marijuana fiasco.
Picking up an extra third or fourth-rounder in a draft plush with corners and edge rushing prospects could pay tremendous dividends for a team in desperate need of both. The extra picks could allow them the flexibility of double-dipping on a prospect they may not have been flexible enough to if not for making a trade down, perhaps a Davis Tull, an Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, depending on the health of his knee, or Yeldon. I wouldn’t be shocked if the team opted to go for a running back earlier than expected, perhaps in the third round. A draft that starts off 1. Peters, 2. Nate Orchard, 3. Tull and 4. Ekpre-Olomu sounds like a great haul, and with two running backs in position to buck recent trends and go in round 1, Pittsburgh could be just the team to benefit from it.