Panthers, Not Ravens, Outmaneuvered Steelers On Draft Day

During the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, one of the major storylines focused around a small pool of teams interested in trading up for the 33rd overall selection, the first pick in the second round of the draft.

Among those teams named by reporters, whether accurately or not, was the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was a narrative that actually began in the hours after the conclusion of the first round. Clearly, there was somebody that the Steelers were interested in.

Putting that aside for a moment, a second storyline enveloped the Steelers organization by the end of day two to the point that general manager Kevin Colbert took the unusual step of addressing it in unprompted fashion during his post-draft press conference, which was seemingly out of character.

That storyline is, of course, the tale of the division rival Baltimore Ravens slyly stealing away the Steelers’ target, moving up three spots in the second round from 26 to 23, one ahead of the Steelers, in order to select tight end Maxx Williams.

Colbert denied this, indirectly, by saying that the player that they ended up drafting, cornerback Senquez Golson, was a player that they targeted for the second round, and that “without a doubt” the Steelers were going to come out of that round with a cornerback.

It is a storyline that will likely have a long shelf life, particularly in Baltimore, unless Williams falls flat in his career. A story about the Ravens ‘snatching’ the tight end from the Steelers was published on the team’s website, and ESPN Ravens beat writer Jamison Hensley continued to beat that narrative in his divisional post-draft evaluation recently, noting that the Ravens’ draft should get extra points for outmaneuvering the Steelers.

The Steelers were outmaneuvered for their target in the second round. But it wasn’t by the Ravens. Rather, it was by a collective of teams: the St. Louis Rams, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons.

According to Bob Labriola, who reported on this during an episode of Live yesterday for the team’s website, the Steelers believed that they had a trade in place with the Rams to move up to the ninth spot in the second round to draft LSU cornerback Jalen Collins.

Instead, the Panthers moved in with a slightly more tempting offer, which they used to draft wide receiver Devin Funchess, and Collins ended up being taken by the Falcons with the next pick.

Depending on one’s perspective, some might be inclined to argue that the Steelers got a break. Even though Collins has the size (6’1”) and measureables, his college numbers are curiously not representative of his potential. He intercepted three passes, including one in his final season, and made limited starts.

Golson, in contrast, intercepted 16 passes during his four college seasons, including 10 in 2014 after devoting himself to football as a one-sport athlete. The knock against him is for his height and vertical ability, of course, but as a football player, his resume is certainly more comforting than Collins’, and it didn’t cost them an extra draft pick.

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