This was Kevin Colbert’s Draft Day moment. Clutching the piece of paper, wrinkled up, with these words scribbled down: Draft Artie Burns. No matter what.
Ok, maybe that didn’t happen. But according to him, the idea of moving out of the 25th spot was never worth the risk of losing out on him.
“We weren’t going to [trade down] because we were going to take Artie Burns right then and there. Trading away from Artie Burns was never even an issue,” Colbert told the media in the team’s post-draft press conference.
Now, of course, Colbert is going to downplay the idea of a trade-down to help support the pick and the player, but if you listen to how adamant and quick the response is, it sounds awfully genuine. The decision may not have been as popular in outside circles, but it’s very clear confidence was high on the inside.
And Pittsburgh likely had their opportunities to trade down. The Denver Broncos swapped with the Seattle Seahawks one pick later to acquire quarterback Paxton Lynch with Seattle netting a third round pick. The debate over if Artie Burns would have been there at 31 could live on forever, and thanks to the Internet comment section, it probably will, but it was obviously not a risk the Steelers ever worth entertaining.
The Burns pick, at the least, was an unconventional one. The first cornerback taken in the top round since 1997. An underclassmen who wasn’t brought in for a visit, relatively rare for Pittsburgh. Burns’ lack of starting experience, the fewest starts of any cornerback drafted under Mike Tomlin.
By no means does that make this a bad pick, it’s largely irrelevant to Burns’ NFL career, but makes the decision all the more interesting. And oh yeah, probably puts people like me back to the drawing board of trying to predict future Steelers’ draft picks.