The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will trade back from their top pick at 49 in this year’s draft.
Explanation: The Steelers do not have a first-round pick. They also have only one pick in the top 100. But they also only have six draft picks in total. They could add more talent by trading back, yet at the same time it would reduce their chance of landing a top talent.
The Steelers have never drafted fewer than seven players under Mike Tomlin. The last time that they did was in 2003, early in Kevin Colbert’s tenure as general manager, and that was the year the Steelers traded up to draft Troy Polamalu, sending their first-, third-, and sixth-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs.
That was the case of a draft-day trade. The Steelers’ limitation to only six picks was the result of multiple trades (for Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick), but they have had time to prepare and adjust since then. They have a number of holes in terms of depth, so six spots won’t be enough to address all of them.
You can’t have just one pick in the top two rounds and think about trading back. 49 and then 102. Unless it’s a very small trade-back, it’s not worth it to pick up another late-round pick just for the sake of it when it could mean missing out on a legitimately talented player. The Steelers have said there are several players they would expect to be excited about taking at 49.
And this is not a team that has a lot of history with trading back. Usually, if they do make a trade, it’s to move up. They are a ‘run to the podium’ sort, where if they see somebody they’re excited about and he slips into their range, they’re going to pursue him.
The last time the Steelers traded down was in 2010, and that was to get Bryant McFadden back from the Arizona Cardinals. The year before that, they did trade back, dealing their second- and fourth-round picks for a pair of third-rounders. They also moved back seven spots in the fourth round in 2008.