The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft was considered to be less predictable than the majority of those that have come before in recent years. The first few picks pretty much went as expected, but things quickly started to deviate from the script from that point forward, starting with Mike Mayock’s first ever draft selection in his new role as the Oakland Raiders’ General Manager, taking edge defender Clelin Ferrell fourth overall.
A number of things were unconventional about the day, including the Pittsburgh Steelers’ trade up from 20th overall to 10th, and the fact that it was the only trade that was made inside the top 20 picks, but one of the more surprising things to me is the fact that we nearly escaped the first round entirely without a cornerback coming off the board.
It took the New York Giants, trading back into the third round at 30th overall for their third pick of the day, to take the first cornerback of the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting DeAndre Baker, among the cornerbacks whom the Steelers brought in for a pre-draft visit.
But heading into Day Two, he remains the only cornerback that has been drafted so far, which means that the likes of Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy remain in play, as well as all of the cornerbacks at the next tier, starting with Rock Ya-Sin and Julian Love, two more players in the secondary in which the Steelers have had interest.
At least as far as it concerns Pittsburgh, however, the problem with this setup is that when such scenarios occur, they tend to be followed by a run at the position on the next day. The ‘drought’ generally occurs when a group is rich in depth but lacks a real standout prospect, so teams elect to pass on the entire group, believing that they will be able to find value with their next pick.
The Steelers’ next pick was supposed to be 52nd overall, but they traded that to the Denver Broncos, in addition to their natural 2020 third-round pick, in order to move up to get Devin Bush, so their next choice will not some for another 13 picks at 65th overall, which is the third-round selection the Raiders sent to Pittsburgh in exchange for Antonio Brown.
In other words, if the Steelers were hoping to land a cornerback on day two, then the first day of the draft couldn’t have gone much better, but historical precedent indicates that it might not be representative of how things will unfold between now and their next opportunity to make a selection.
We may be down to a player such as David Long, one of Bush’s teammates at Michigan, by the time Pittsburgh is on the clock again, which could be worse. He is a true junior who had three interceptions over the past two years.