The Pittsburgh Steelers have only traded up in the first round twice in their history. The last time that they did so was in 2006, the year before Head Coach Mike Tomlin arrived. Yet many believe the 2019 NFL Draft provides them with the most likely opportunity to do so since then.
The Steelers have 10 total selections in the draft, including two third-round picks, one high in the round. They sit at 20th overall, but many believe they would like to target Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush, who could go as early as the top 10, or perhaps not far after.
There is a fairly high probability that the Steelers will have to trade up if they are set on drafting Bush, which means finding a trading partner, and that can be harder to do for an organization that does not work with a formal trade value chart.
Another reason that trades have been difficult to come by for the team is because they refuse to devalue their picks, choosing instead of acknowledge the potential for even a seventh-round pick to yield an excellent player. Every pick that you trade away is one less opportunity to acquire a talented player.
“We always try to put a name to the face. You say ‘well throw in a seventh’. Well, wait a minute. You’re throwing in a Brett Keisel. We’ve got to be careful about that. Kelvin Beachum. We try to maintain some sanity about just saying ‘well just give ‘em that’”.
“So again, when you put picks together, you’ve got to put, maybe what has worked for you in the past”, he went on, “but you’ve also got to say, if you give up a seventh in this year’s draft, we might not be able to get that player that we like down low. So we just don’t throw around numbers. We try to put names to the numbers”.
Of course the probability of a random seventh-round pick turning into a very good player is relatively low if you go by the percentages. But every player drafted or undrafted has the potential to exceed their pedigree, as players that Colbert named like Keisel and Beachum did.
Still, while the Steelers try to value every pick that they have, they are still willing to make a move as long as they feel that it is worth the cost. Pittsburgh’s extra third-round pick this year, and the likelihood of having an addition third-round pick next year as well, helps to soften the psychological and practical blow of losing out on pick in order to get a better one.