Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has never been involved in a draft-day trade involving the first round, in spite of the fact that he has been with the team for 12 years now. General Manager Kevin Colbert, on the other hand, has participated in two trades up in the first round, in 2003 for Troy Polamalu and then in 2006 for Santonio Holmes, the year before Tomlin was brought in.
Colbert’s partner during those two drafts in which trades took place was Bill Cowher, who took over the team as head coach in the early 90s. when Colbert was brought in, they seemed to have a connection, which was part of the puzzle that added up to their being able to reach an agreement to trade up.
With the Steelers entering another big draft and rumors of their potential to trade up this year looming, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reached out to Cowher to get his thoughts on the team’s current situation, calling upon his insights from working with Colbert.
“I certainly think they’re targeting a linebacker. It’s a question of how much do you have to give up to get there?”, he told Ray Fittipaldo. “It’ll be something they’ll entertain. When you get within 10 picks, that’s when you start to think about it. Need has to play into your decision-making. Taking best athlete is great if you don’t have needs. But sometimes need puts a greater value on players”.
While the Steelers under Tomlin have never moved around in the first round, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has been for a lack of trying. There have been reports out of multiple years indicating that the team was attempting to make a move but could not reach a deal.
The most recent such report was just last year. The Steelers supposedly wanted to move up to select Rashaan Evans, who was the last of the top inside linebackers on the board, as the position moved quickly in the first round. A few years earlier, they reportedly were interested in moving up for Justin Gilbert. I believe there were similar reports tied to Trae Waynes as well.
This year, however, so many of the signs seem to be aligning. They have the need, they have the player, and they have the resources to make a move happen. After missing out on an inside linebacker last season and essentially regretting it later, they will be more motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
The Steelers are still looking to replace Ryan Shazier, with Jon Bostic getting the first crack at it last season. Of course, they were hoping to add somebody like Evans or Leighton Vander Esch to the group, but that didn’t pan out.