I’ll admit it. These types of articles can sorta suck. They’re the typical, edgy but not edgy pre-draft fodder. Because of course, trading down always sounds good on paper. But for this year, it really makes a truckload of sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If this was any other team, I’d suggest bailing out of the first. But alas, this is Kevin Colbert, these are the Steelers. That’s simply something they don’t do. Literally. In 17 drafts with the Steelers, he’s never gotten out of the first round. That follows a Chuck Noll philosophy who did the same over an even longer time span. Blame Buddy Parker, who as we wrote about in last week’s mailbag, treated draft picks like the plague, staying far, far away.
Back to this year. The Steelers will be Super Bowl contenders and the favorite in the AFC North. Obviously, by no means in this a bad roster. But ask any fan about what the team needs and you’ll either get a long list of positions or a different answer from each person.
Cornerback. Outside linebacker. Running back. Those are the most common answers. The Steelers have explored beyond that, clearly having interest in safety and quarterback. The team is still in the dark over Martavis Bryant, providing a more compelling reason to draft a receiver high. Tight end could be addressed, regardless of whether or not Ben Roethlisberger protested for one, and an inside linebacker is likely to be drafted, too.
How many picks do the Steelers have? Just eight, netting the one compensatory pick. Granted, it was a very good one, so hey, it’s hard to complain, but Colbert seemed disappointed discussing it.
I’d recommend listening to his words because tone is important but here’s his reaction to getting the third.
“We have two capologists,” he told Gerry Dulac on SNR. “One said it was going to be one pick, the other said it’d be three [compensatory picks]…to get a third, we were very excited…surprised, yes, excited, yes as well. So we just got to make good on having an extra pick.”
The Steelers have always planned on getting multiple compensatory picks. It’s why they were aggressive in looking to trade up a year ago. In a rare moment of transparency, Colbert addressed and confirmed the rumors.
“When I was talking about trying to get another pick in this draft, we would’ve traded a pick from next year’s draft because we anticipate getting two or three [compensatory] picks. So if you’re pretty sure you’re going to get those, why not trade one to help us this year?”
So much for “pretty sure.” The only way to now in order to add to the draft pick pool is trading back. And given the list of positions the team should or would like to address, this is the year to do it.
The draft is deep at two key areas; outside linebacker and cornerback. That’s still the Steelers two biggest needs, giving some comfort to trading back into the third. It’s impossible to say who but the odds are good there will be a corner or pass rusher they’re still smitten with.
It has been awhile since the Steelers have gotten out of the second round but there is precedent. It’s happened twice under Colbert. Once in 2006, making a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, and again in 2009 with the Denver Broncos.
In fact, the Steelers have only moved down four times under Colbert and half of those came in the second. The sample size is small but if there’s a round to predict a move, generally speaking, it’s Round Two.
What could Pittsburgh get? Look to last year’s draft. The Kansas City Chiefs, picking 59th overall, swapped with the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, netting picks 74 and 106 – a third and a fourth. At 62, the Steelers can expect the same, a mid-third and early fourth. Maybe they get a deal done with the New Orleans Saints for picks 76 and 103, the latter a comp pick from the Patriots. Or the Arizona Cardinals for 77 and 119; they have nine picks and could afford to burn one. Just spit-balling.
For Colbert to move, the stars usually have to end up aligning. But this looks to be the year where that will end up happening.