Calvin Austin was Baltimore’s pick.
Until he was Pittsburgh’s.
The NFL Draft is unique in the fact that it oftentimes pits teams’ front offices against each other. And every once in a while, a bitter rivalry has the chance to carry over into the draft as teams try to one-up one another. Kevin Colbert, in his final draft as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ general manager, managed to spite the Baltimore Ravens one last time in the fourth round of the draft on Saturday. The Steelers selected Memphis’s Calvin Austin III just one pick ahead of where the Ravens reportedly would have drafted the speedy wide receiver.
NBC’s Peter King went inside the Ravens’ war room on Saturday and heard them express their plans to draft Austin with the 139th overall pick. They actually held both 139 and the 141st pick, which usually would assure a team of getting its desired target, especially one in the middle rounds of the draft. But King writes that the Ravens also received calls from teams looking to trade up to those spots.
“Now the calls started coming for the last two fourth-rounders, 139th and 141st overall. Five teams called in 20 minutes. One NFC team offered two sixth-round picks for either 139 or 141. “I don’t think so,” DeCosta told one of the GMs who called. “We’re gonna pick.”
After trading away Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday for a first-round pick, Baltimore was hoping to replace some of the speed that it had lost. But of course this is where the Steelers came into play, and with the 138th pick in the draft, they of course took Austin, who was announced as the newest member of the Steelers by running back Najee Harris, who was in Mexico City.
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) April 30, 2022
The Ravens had six fourth-round picks heading into Saturday. They could have easily picked Austin with one of their first four selections ahead of the Steelers, most notably at No. 130. But instead, they opted for Penn State punter Jordan Stout.
“Austin wasn’t a must-have. But he was the next target,” wrote King on what the Raven’s plan was as Austin looked to be precariously falling into their lap. “He was Baltimore’s guy. Then, over the tiny speaker, news that the Steelers were picking wide receiver Calvin Austin, Memphis.”
King wrote, “’Gotta be kidding me,’ someone blurted out as the Ravens began to process it.”
It’s understandable why they would want to add a player who is fearless over the middle with 4.32 speed. Fortunately for the Steelers, they were also trying to build up its receiving core after losing three wideouts in free agency. It’s an undeniable win on two different fronts—the Steelers not only got a potentially explosive playmaker in Austin, but they kept him away from the Ravens, who now will be the ones that have to deal with his track speed.
And while Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin admitted before the draft that they don’t try to predict what other teams are doing, it has to be satisfying in some way to know they thwarted a division rival’s plan, especially on one of the final days of Colbert’s career with the Steelers.