The Pittsburgh Steelers knew exactly what they were doing when they made two bold trades over the course of the 2019 calendar year that saw them send their 2019 first-round pick to the Denver Broncos (in exchange for their own) and their 2020 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins.
The mission was to acquire blue-chip defensive players at critical positions, and I think it would be fair to say that they accomplished their mission. In trading up with Denver, they were able to secure Devin Bush, who had a strong rookie season with promise of better to come. It cost them a 2019 second-round pick, however, and a third-round pick this year.
For the Dolphins trade, it yielded second-year Minkah Fitzpatrick, who in 14 games with the Steelers would quickly develop into a first-team All-Pro. It did result in their not having a first-round pick since the late 1960s, however.
Bush and Fitzpatrick had a huge impact on the defense last season, and may continue to do so for the next decade. It’s hard to argue that their resources would have been better spent not making those trades. Nevertheless, the upshot of all this is the reality that they do in fact head into the 2020 NFL Draft outgunned by damn near everybody as they look to fortify their depth.
In fact, according to one estimate, they have the second-least draft value in the NFL, short of only the Buffalo Bills. Now, this estimate is based on a draft value chart created by Rich Hill, and is not a universal measurement. Still, it does sound about right, doesn’t it?
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 16, 2020
Through Hill’s value chart, the Steelers enter this year with just 192 value points with their six draft picks (tied for the third-fewest total picks), only two points ahead of the Bills. They are the only team who has just one selection in the top 100, that being at 49.
Only two other teams—the Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears—have a value under 300. Both the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals hold values that easily eclipse 1000, with the Dolphins holding a stockpile of an astonishing 14 draft picks, including multiple selections in the first round (obviously the Steelers’ being among them).
As for the rest of the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns rank 12th on the draft value list with 648 points, while the Baltimore Ravens are 18th, with 514 points. Thanks to compensatory draft picks, Baltimore has nine picks, even though they have spent some trading for Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters (but have also gained through trading Hayden Hurst and Chris Wormley).
Of course, the reason the Steelers feel as comfortable as they do going into this draft with such a poor supply is because they know what they got out of using those resources beforehand. It has allowed them to have among the strongest starting lineups in the NFL, pending Ben Roethlisberger’s return. What’s left is, hopefully, just to plug a few holes here and there, possibly find a starting nose tackle.