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2017 Offseason Questions: Does Comp Pick Make Top Pick More Position-Flexible?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Will the added compensatory pick make the Steelers more position-flexible with their first-round selection?

It’s common knowledge by now that the Steelers were awarded a third-round compensatory pick for this year’s draft, which was a value greater than the organization was anticipating, according to beat writer Dale Lolley, who wrote on Twitter that the expectation was a sixth-round pick.

With this new information, it could force—or more accurately, allow—the Steelers to tweak how they approach their first-round draft pick, which is the 30th overall. While it is generally agreed upon that outside linebacker is the team’s top need, it is also believed to be a deep class.

Having an additional selection in the top 105 gives the Steelers additional fuel with which to attack their top needs, should they choose to weigh more heavily upon positions of need during their early selections. I would contest the notion that it has been largely coincidental that their recent early-round picks has largely coincided with areas of need.

Instead of waiting 30 picks into the fourth round, however, the Steelers now have the luxury of potentially addressing four areas of need with a higher-quality selection. That offers them the opportunity to be more flexible with the position of the player that they select in the first round—in other words, it makes taking the best player available a bit more feasible.

Just how flexible might that be, however? After Ben Roethlisberger’s comments about contemplating retirement, what if a quarterback that they like falls all the way down to their top pick? Or even close enough for them to entertain trading up? Comments from the owner and general manager suggest they were already taking the quarterback position seriously in general.

This isn’t a question just about the quarterback position, of course. And it’s not just “might they not draft an outside linebacker in the first round”, either.

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