Let’s be clear about one thing. The five AAF players signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers have no bearing on who they’ll draft. Jack Tocho isn’t stopping the team from adding a safety. Nor is Casey Sayles going to prevent them from taking a defensive end in the mid-rounds.
However, it could impact how they draft. At least, it sorta feels like it. Combing over the roster, they now have 76 players, including Ryan Shazier. Add in ten draft picks and you’re at 86. Seems pretty high, doesn’t it? Knowing they bring in roughly another ten UDFAs per class, the math doesn’t add up, well over the maximum of 90.
Sure, they could cut down the roster after the fact. Release players signed to futures deals they don’t value as high as a particular free agent. That’s possible.
It’s also possible this is a signal to their draft day plans. That Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin have no intention of drafting anywhere near ten players. Make it more like six or seven, getting them much closer to 90 the day after the draft.
Obviously, that means a plan to trade up somewhere. The clearest candidate is a plan to jump up from #20 and attack someone like Devin Bush. It could happen elsewhere, too, trading up in the second-round to get whoever they really like. Maybe an inside linebacker like Texas’ Gary Johnson. Maybe a totally different position. They could go in virtually any direction – receiver, linebacker, safety, tight end, corner, and even running back looks in play for Day Two.
I know. My tinfoil hat is probably on a little too tight. The AAF folding couldn’t be planned and is definitely in part the team capitalizing on the opportunity. But with all the picks they’ve acquired for this year, and the knowledge they likely have a third round comp pick coming to them in 2020 for Le’Veon Bell, I can’t help but think we’re in for a busy draft day.