The Curious Case Of Pittsburgh’s 2018 Sixth-Round Draft Pick

Steelers NFL Draft logos

In this edition of As the Draft Turns, the Pittsburgh Steelers see the return of a long-lost future draft pick, only to have to hastily say goodbye once again, just a day later.

Within the past 13 months, the Steelers’ 2018 sixth-round draft pick has now been dealt not once, not twice, but in fact three times, with Pittsburgh twice being the one trading it away. So I thought it would be interesting to trace its migration pattern and how everything has worked out in its wake.

Last year, during the late stages of the preseason, the Steelers needed depth at the cornerback position, and had long coveted cornerback Justin Gilbert, a top-10 pick of the Cleveland Browns a few years ago. While he never worked out there, Pittsburgh wanted to kick his tires, so they gave up their 2018 sixth-round draft pick in order to acquire him.

Gilbert played sparingly on both defense and special teams, and was released earlier this year. If I recall correctly, he has since been suspended. Most seem to have held the belief that it was a waste of resources, though its primary purpose was simply for depth.

Depth also plays a factor in how the Steelers saw the return of that draft pick just days ago, as, with an abundance of wide receivers, they were able to trade Sammie Coates to the Browns, as well as their 2019 seventh-round draft pick, for their original 2018 sixth-round pick.

They quickly turned around and used that regained resource to acquire depth at safety yesterday, bringing in J.J. Wilcox, plus a 2019 seventh-round draft pick, from the Buccaneers in exchange for that 2018 sixth-round draft pick.

So let’s briefly recap how things progressed:

2018 sixth-round draft pick => CB Justin Gilbert

WR Sammie Coates + 2019 seventh-round draft pick => 2018 sixth-round draft pick

2018 sixth-round draft pick => S J.J. Wilcox + 2019 seventh-round draft pick

So, in total, for the price of a sixth-round draft pick and Sammie Coates, they netted Wilcox, plus a one-year rental of Gilbert, and likely upgraded their 2019 seventh-round draft pick depending on where the Steelers and Buccaneers finish in the standings in 2018.

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Nobody ever said it would be easy to be a draft pick. But at least the Steelers’ 2018 sixth-round draft pick will never have to be ridiculed by its original team’s fan base for being used on a long snapper that never made the team, which is the fate their 2017 sixth-round draft pick is now suffering through.

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