With a decent amount of pre-draft capital currently banked as a result of the Pittsburgh Steelers trading away wide receiver Antonio Brown several weeks ago, several fans of the team believe this will be a year that general manager Kevin Colbert trades up in the first-round of the forthcoming draft to select one of the two top linebackers, Devin White or Devin Bush. During the team’s annual pre-draft press conference on Monday. Colbert gave his usual generic comment on the possibility of the Steelers trading up or down this year in the draft.
“We’ll always get asked questions about the trade up and trade down, you know we’re always going to be open to either,” Colbert said Monday. “Our scouts, the pro guys will be making their calls starting today to visit with teams. We talk about it informally throughout the spring, but you never really get firm answers because we don’t know you’d be trading up for and teams don’t know what they’d be trading away from. So, until you really get closer to, you can have some ideas, this team’s interested in coming up, this team’s interested in going down – until you actually get on the clock, those things will not happen in any great detail.”
After talking about how the Steelers will do their annual mock draft on Wednesday, an exercise that is essential just the decision-makers ranking players the way they would personally draft them, Colbert did say that at that point players will be identified that they won’t be willing to trade away from.
“And also in that we’ll identify a group of players that we wouldn’t trade away from no matter what,” Colbert said. “If they were available to us at 20, and someone came to us with picks, we’ve already determined we’re taking that player.”
Colbert was later asked during the press conference to identify how many players in this years draft class does he love enough to trade up for in the first-round if the price to do so is fair.
“Let me say it like this, there’s a lot of guys we like at certain levels,” Colbert said. “There’s guys, we talk about it all the time. We’ll look at him in the fourth round, we would feel great about him in the fifth. So, that means we love him at that level and each level has a certain amount of players in there. Again, we’re going to pick 10 players, I’m very comfortable in saying it’ll be from our top 150 that we have evaluated. And we know that, you just watch a draft unfold, in the first round, it’s pretty generic.
“People have been talking about the top 20 players endlessly since this thing started back during the college football season. And then as the draft opens up, you get into rounds three, four, five, it spreads out because teams draft for need. We try to avoid that but it happens and we know historically that we’re going to have a better chance of getting guys we like in later rounds Whether they’re the right guys or not, who knows?”
Colbert was then asked a more detailed followup question that including him being asked to identify how many players in the first overall 20 that he absolutely loves this year and thus would be willing to trade up for.
“It depends on the position,” Colbert said. “There can be guys we really like, like, wow, he’d be great. He might be the top player at a position that we’re not necessarily focusing on in that first round, but all of a sudden if he was there, and that’s part of the 20 that we’ll go through between now and Wednesday. And if they’re there, boy, you better take that player. So there’s really not a finite amount of guys that we love or wouldn’t consider trading up for.”
Colbert then went on to say more about how the Steelers organization doesn’t really pay much mind to the perceived standard trade chart that people have seen over the years.
“People talk about the charts, we don’t use a chart,” Colbert said. “And we know other teams will use a chart and we know when we call them they’re going to say, ‘Well it doesn’t match our chart value.’ And that’s fine, they can do that. But in our minds, we have to spend what we want to spend if we want a certain player. And we have to demand if teams are trying to trade up to us, we don’t follow a chart. We know what they’re saying and that’s up to them, but we’ll make up our own values.”
As has been the case most of this offseason, speculation is heavy that both White and Bush will both be gone way before the Steelers pick at No. 20 in the first-round. additionally, many seem convinced that if the Steelers want to get the latter of those two players, Bush, they’ll have to trade up into the top 10 to get him because the Cincinnati Bengals might want him at No. 11 overall. Colbert was asked if he pays any attention to possibly needing to jump ahead of certain teams for fear they might draft a certain player.
“What we look at is, if a certain player that say we would take at 5 is available at 10, then we say, ‘You know what, this guy is coming to where he’s available, we might want to think about going up to get him, because he probably won’t get the 12, Colbert said. “But it’s not the teams, because we’re guessing at what other teams are thinking. We value what we believe and how we believe of the value.”
Should the Steelers ultimately trade up in the first-round this year, it will mark just the third time such an event has happened since Colbert arrived in 2000. The other two times the Steelers traded up in a first round in a draft were 2003 when they went from 27 to 16 get select safety Troy Polamalu and in 2005 when they went from 32 to 25 to select wide receiver Santonio Holmes.