The fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to wait before they get their first crack of the day at adding somebody to their roster after adding four players to the team over the course of the previous two days.
That is, if they intend to stay put in the fourth round. And recent draft history shows that this is the time period in which they are most flexible.
Most recently, the Steelers traded with the Browns in 2013 in order to acquire their 14th pick in the round. They gave up a 2014 third-round draft pick, anticipating that they would get a compensatory pick that year, using the Browns’ additional fourth-rounder to select safety Shamarko Thomas.
Just one year prior to that, in 2012, the Steelers flipped draft picks in the fourth round and gave up their sixth-round pick in order to move up, if I recall correctly, 10 spots to select nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu with the 109th-overall selection of the draft.
In 2009, the Steelers used their fourth-round pick in part of a trade that sent their fourth-rounder to the Broncos for two picks in the third round. The year before that, they slid back seven spots in the round to pick up an extra sixth-rounder.
Going back to 2007, they traded up seven spots and gave up a sixth-rounder for punter Daniel Sepulveda. The point I’m making here is that even though he hasn’t happened in the past few drafts, there’s obvious precedent for the Steelers to make a move in round four.
This year, due to the high volume of third-round compensatory picks, the fourth round is already beginning with the 108th-overall pick. The Steelers currently hold the 29th pick in the round at the 135th-overall pick of the draft. Are they willing to wait that long in risking not getting the player that they want?
I’m not about to suggest that I know their draft board, but if I were the Steelers, there are several players remaining that I would strongly consider trading up for if they fell into a range that they were comfortable with.
Tight end George Kittle is my chief target, and I do think that they are interested in finding a player at the position. Bucky Hodges, another tight end, could be another target if the positions started getting plucked.
A couple of cornerbacks, especially Corn Elder, could make sense as a target that might inspire a desire to trade up, as could the continuing slide of Carl Lawson as a pass rusher whose stock is sliding. Either selection would be a double-dip at their respective positions.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, we also have to consider the possibility that they may want to trade up for one of three quarterbacks still available, all of whom they have taken a gander at: Joshua Dobbs, Brad Kaaya, and Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman. Personally, trading up to draft a quarterback would be my worst-case scenario outcome for the fourth round, so I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen.