Considering the magnitude not only of the decision but of the actual mechanics of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ move up from the 20th-overall pick to the 10th-overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft to bring in Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush, it’s pretty understandable that both the pick itself and the trade to make the pick have been the subject of a lot of discussion.
It has come up, as it naturally would, in every interview so far that General Manager Kevin Colbert has done since the draft ended, and that included one that aired on Tuesday with Mike Florio on his Pro Football Talk podcast.
The Steelers have a reputation of being notoriously conservative when it comes to the draft. There likely aren’t many teams who do fewer draft-day trades, and rarely are they aggressive moves. They have only traded up in the first round three times in their history, including last week. So Florio asked Colbert what kind of limit they set on what they were willing to give up to make that move up.
“We knew that there were certain teams that weren’t going to trade, or if they were able to trade into their market, it was going to cost you more than we’d like to do or we have liked to do in the past”, he said. “This year, we had the extra picks, via the Antonio Brown trade, we had the extra three and five, which in our opinion were low twos and fours, so we had extra values that we could work with. In the past I’ve been very reluctant about trading a second-round pick, but this year, because that high three was in a relative case close to a second-round pick, that was what was required to get where Denver was, and fortunately, they were agreeable to a two this year and a three next year, with the three probably equates to a four in this year’s draft”.
Florio asked him to explain his reasoning behind seeing the third- and fifth-round picks as late-second- and late-fourth-rounders, respectively, and rather than merely pointing out that they’re early picks, he had an actual explanation.
“The players in this draft, we thought there was great depth in the second and third rounds, so the player you get in low two you’re probably going to get in high three or equivalent”, he said. “So this year, not only were the picks close, but there were so many players available in those two rounds that it was really a relative range and was, again, why we were willing to make that trade”.
That’s a slightly different explanation to that which we have previously heard from Colbert regarding the rationale behind parting with a second-round pick this year, which has been a prohibitive asking price for prior trade discussions. It’s fair to argue that without the Antonio Brown trade, Bush would not be a Steeler. Talent-wise, that might not exactly be a bargain, but considering that a divorce became inevitable, it’s a slight consolation.