NFL Draft

New CBS Mock Draft Sees Steelers Trade Out Of First Round (And It’s A Mess)

Consider CBS’ latest mock draft to be a dream of what the Pittsburgh Steelers will do next Thursday night. Or for others, a nightmare. In Chris Trapasso’s latest mock draft, a full-fledged seven round edition, he has the team trading out of the first round on draft night in a nearly unprecedented move with the Atlanta Falcons.

In Trapasso’s mock, he has the Steelers trading #20 in exchange for three second round picks: #43, #58, and a 2023 second-rounder. In the deal, Atlanta, already taking QB Malik Willis at #8, grab him a receiver to throw to at #20 in Ohio State’s Chris Olave.

Kevin Colbert has only traded down in the first round once since being named the de facto (and later officially) GM of the Steelers in 2000. That occurred in his second draft, 2001, moving down three spots in a deal with the New York Jets. Colbert slid down from #16 to #19, picking up a fourth- and sixth-rounder in the process. The Jets walked away with WR Santana Moss and the Steelers still picked up NT Casey Hampton, a win-win for both sides (Moss would eventually be dealt to Washington for Laveranues Coles).

In past press conferences, Colbert has said he only trades down if he likes as many players as he would be moving down. Meaning, if the team trades down five spots, there has to be five players he’d be willing to take with that new, lower pick. Something that probably doesn’t often happen and the reason why Colbert’s only moved down once and only a couple spots the time he did.

Of course, moving out of the first round entirely and a whopping 23 spots down is a different case entirely. But in his last draft as Steelers’ GM, it’s hard to see him making such a move, making this mock purely a fantasy.

So what did the Steelers do with their new-found capital? At #43, Trapasso has them selecting Alabama LB Christian Harris. Undersized but athletic, Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, and Colbert all attended his Crimson Tide Pro Day. Devin Bush is entering the final year of his rookie contract, assuming his fifth year option is declined, but Harris may struggle to see the field immediately, making this an odd first choice.

At #52 the team goes O-line with Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann. An Austrian who is relatively new to football, he lacks length and tremendous bulk but is an fluid mover, and Pittsburgh has certainly primed the pump at MAC schools before, though normally not this high (one quarterback from Miami (Ohio) being an exception, of course).

With their third second-round selection, Trapasso mocks the Steelers Nevada QB Carson Strong at #58. True to name, he’s a strong-armed pocket passer, a Matt Ryan type, but comes with serious medical concerns in his right knee that’s been undergoing surgeries since his senior year of high school. Still, QBs Coach Mike Sullivan attended his Pro Day and Strong was brought in for a pre-draft visit, so it doesn’t seem like the team has taken him off their board entirely.

Into the third round at pick #84, he has the team taking Oklahoma EDGE Isaiah Thomas. Well-built at 6’5″, 265, he posted 14.5 sacks over the last two years for the Sooners. Overshadowed by teammate Nik Bonitto, Thomas didn’t test particularly well at Indy, running a 4.70 with 31.5-inch vertical and 9’9″ broad jump. This ranking feels high, and NFL Mock Draft Database has him as an average fifth-round pick.

In Round 4 at #138, Pittsburgh goes small school with Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum. One of the best athletes in the draft, McCollum ran 4.33 at 6’2″, 199 pounds at the Combine along with a 39.5-inch vertical, 11-foot broad, and freaky agility times, a 3.94 short shuttle and 6.48 three-cone. He lacks length from corners his size but held his own against top competition during the Senior Bowl. Perhaps he’d be the team’s new version of Cortez Allen.

Trapasso, for reasons unclear, mocks another Steelers’ trade during the draft, having them trade a sixth- and seventh-round pick to move up and get Oklahoma State safety Kolby Harvell-Peel. He notched 70 tackles and picked off three passes last season for the Cowboys. He also was one box away from checking every threshold in our “what they look for” studies. 

Trapasso evidently forgot he made that trade with the Bears in his draft and has the Steelers still making their selections with the picks they traded away at #208 and #241. I’ll ignore that and focus on the rest. It includes another trade with the Chargers and the Steelers grabbing Baylor CB Kalon Barnes. He blazed a 4.23 40 at the Combine, one of the fastest times ever. But he’s undersized with light production, just 69 career tackles and three interceptions. He’s more athlete than football player right now.

With their final pick acquired from the Chargers, #260, he has the Steelers grabbing Idaho State WR Tanner Conner (Trapasso mistakenly lists Conner as hailing from Idaho). A tall drink of water at nearly 6’4″, 226 pounds, he ran a respectable 4.50 at his Pro Day but impressed elsewhere with a 39-inch vertical and 10’7″ broad. In just six games this past year, Scott put up 685 yards and three scores. In 2019, he averaged 16.9 YPC.

To recap. Oh dear. Trapasso’s mock draft is a messy fever dream of trades to be forgotten and selections that don’t make a lot of sense. If Pittsburgh did what Trapasso lays out here, it would be Kevin Colbert would exit on a low note, a haphazard mess of picks and players that don’t really seem to have any plan. A second-tier quarterback with a shredded knee, safety that’s traded up for but not addressed until late on Day 3, a second-round linebacker without a clear role, all wrapped up in a first-round trade down that doesn’t add up. Props to him for embarking on such an adventure, but it looks like he took a couple of wrong turns along the way.

For the benefit of both of us, here’s a recap of Trapasso’s Pittsburgh picks.

CBS Mock Draft

Round 1 – Trade with Falcons
Round 2 – Christian Harris/LB Alabama (trade)
Round 2 – Bernhard Raimann/OT Central Michigan
Round 2 – Carson Strong/QB Nevada (trade)
Round 3 – Isaiah Thomas/EDGE Oklahoma
Round 4 – Zyon McCollum/CB Sam Houston State
Round 6 – Kolby Harvell-Peel/S Oklahoma State (trade)
Round 7 – Kalon Barnes/CB Baylor (trade)
Round 7 – Tanner Scott/WR Idaho State (trade)

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