There is a lot of dead air to fill, around short pockets of activity, in the time between the end of the season and the start of the draft. And then there is even more of a vacuum until OTAs start, and then until training camp starts.
The pre-draft process especially, however, lends itself to retrospection and revision, and that’s the time that we see a lot of pieces like re-draft exercises, going back to a past draft and trying to figure out, if teams were able to know in hindsight how things would turn out, what they would do differently.
I don’t know if there is a broader context to this, but Pro Football Focus recently shared via Twitter a revision of the 2019 NFL Draft’s top 10 selections, which only by happenstance ended up including the Pittsburgh Steelers when they moved up from 20 to draft inside linebacker Devin Bush.
It’s safe to assume that they wouldn’t do that now, and it’s also very likely that they wouldn’t still trade up to 10 for another player, or another position, but let’s just run with the scenario for the sake of the exercise. Sam Monson has the Steelers at 10 drafting wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Redrafting the 2019 NFL Draft.
What would you change❓🤔 pic.twitter.com/0uoJbF6qgC
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 26, 2022
You have to remember, of course, that this was right after Antonio Brown forced his way off the team and was traded. They ended up drafting Diontae Johnson in the third round. Of course, Chase Claypool was a year away, and James Washington was coming off of an unproductive rookie season.
It’s absolutely not far-fetched that a scenario exists in which they would have taken a wide receiver in the first round that year, with JuJu Smith-Schuster coming off of a Pro Bowl season, after Brown forced his way out. And Metcalf has certainly outplayed his ultimate draft position since then.
Drafted with the final pick in the second round, Metcalf has been an absolute weapon for the Seattle Seahawks over the past three years. He has caught 216 passes in his career for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns, including 12 touchdowns in 2021. He also improved his drop rate last season, which was an issue his first two years.
Of course, it’s hard to say the Steelers would be much better off right now if they drafted Metcalf then in Round 1 than Johnson in Round 3, though it does mean they would have avoided drafting Bush, which most people at this point would consider a win.
The rest of the top 10 starts where it really began, with quarterback Kyler Murray going first and edge Nick Bosa second. Another edge, Brian Burns, goes third, followed by Maxx Crosby, and Rashan Gary rounds out the top five. Picks six through nine consist of a pair of wide receivers in A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel, followed by tackle Jonah Williams and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons.
Is Metcalf really the player the Steelers would have chosen in this scenario at 10? Might they instead have gone for the other inside linebacker, Devin White, who was originally drafted earlier? If it were me, it might be a toss-up between the two. Who would you draft if you were in charge in this hindsight exercise?