Never in the past fifty-plus years have the Pittsburgh Steelers entered a draft this underpowered. Not only do they come into this year’s event without a first-round pick, for the first time since 1967 mind you, they also have no natural third-round pick, though they do have a compensatory third-rounder at 102nd overall for the loss of Le’Veon Bell.
No other team in the NFL has a streak of making at least one first-round selection every year close to as long as the Steelers, to the point where it has had many speculating as to whether or not they will try to trade up into the round.
General manager Kevin Colbert had to explain recently that that scenario isn’t very realistic. It would probably require trading future picks as well. With their highest picks being 49 and 102, they don’t have the ammunition to move up even to 32nd, really.
But that’s okay, in their minds, because they got Minkah Fitzpatrick for their first-rounder, and they are comfortable with what they are seeing when it’s their time to pick in the second round, a few weeks out from the draft.
“We will be sitting there in round two and a lot will happen in that first round. We will reconvene throughout the night on Thursday, the first round, as we see players go off”, he said. “We can actually be meeting as players are picked because we won’t be worried about who we’re taking. We can be doing adjustments as we go”.
“We are confident there will be somebody at a number of positions that will certainly improve our team and we would be anxious to take”, he emphasized, and with the work the team did during free agency to fill certain gaps on the roster, they put themselves in position to maximize a ‘best player available’ strategy to make sure they maximize the value of their lone pick in the top 100.
That is crucial, considering that they are the only team in the league with only one selection in the top 100. Ordinarily a team would have three, one in each of the first three rounds, and many teams would have more than that via trades or even the top few compensatory picks.
The Steelers’ first-rounder went to the Miami Dolphins for Fitzpatrick, but they also sent their third-round pick to the Denver Broncos as part of the trade on draft day last year that allowed them to move up and select Devin Bush. So Bush is also essentially a part of their 2020 draft class.
While it makes it sound and look better to think in those terms, however, the fact remains that there is a lot at stake for pick number 49, because it’s pretty much their one shot at getting a blue chip-type player without a lot of question marks, and they can still greatly benefit from an infusion of talent, especially on offense.