Let me lead by stating that I don’t really understand what in the world the point of this exercise is, beyond a mental one. For whatever reason, Bill Barnwell finds it useful on a yearly basis to create a first-round mock draft in which every single pick in the round is traded. Every one.
While there will surely be a lot of trades, perhaps the most we have ever seen in the first round, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the draft doesn’t unfold anything like what Barnwell’s draft looks like. It’s an exercise in futility. But hey, we’ve got some time to kill, so let’s take a look at his crazy plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers at 28.
And what a shock, it involves the Steelers trading running back Le’Veon Bell. Somehow it gets them all the way up to the number six spot, and it involves first a trade between the Indianapolis Colts (who currently hold the sixth-overall pick) and the Washington Redskins.
Pittsburgh deals Bell, their first-round pick, and their third-round pick in order to move up to six, where they likely will not be guaranteed to get any one particular player, but in Barnwell’s hypothetical fantasy, he kicks around the idea of netting Saquon Barkley.
This is of course an end result that a lot of Steelers fans have wanted, swapping out Bell and getting Barkley. But they have largely assumed that they could simply dish Bell for the Cleveland Browns’ fourth-overall pick outright and swoop in to nab the top back in the draft.
According to Barnwell, it’s not going to work out anything close to that smoothly. Not only will they actually have to give up their own first-round pick, rather than ending up with two, they will also have to fork over an additional third-round pick.
And they won’t even be able to move up to a spot in the draft where they might be virtually assured of being able to take Barkley, since it’s highly unlikely that he slips past the Browns at four if they don’t take him at one.
I suppose if there is a point at all to sharing this Barnwell piece it’s to try to provide a bit of perspective about what sort of trade value is more realistic. To get the fourth-overall pick in the draft for Bell while he costs $14.5 million entering his sixth season and giving up nothing but the player…that wasn’t going to happen.
Now does that mean that the Steelers won’t actually make a trade in the first round? Of course not. I don’t think it would ever be a safe bet that Pittsburgh would make a trade (even if they have seemed lately to be more open to it generally), and they haven’t traded in the first round in over a decade, but they’re more common now than they used to be.