The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had many high draft picks in recent years, but with the team currently 5-7, there’s definitely a chance the Steelers will pick within the top 15 selections this season. They currently hold the No. 14 pick, as well as the Chicago Bears’ second-round selection along with their own second-round selection. Still, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Steelers are a candidate to trade down and add even more draft capital.
“The Steelers have picked in the top 11 just twice in the past 20 years, and one of those was a trade up (for linebacker Devin Bush in 2019). I went to No. 11 there because that’s where they got Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and where ESPN’s FPI has them projected in 2023. They just took quarterback Kenny Pickett in Round 1 last year, so they don’t have a need at that position. New general manager Omar Khan could try to add capital via a trade back,” Kiper wrote in a recent article on ESPN.com.
Trading back in the first round is not something the Steelers did under former general manager Kevin Colbert very much. Colbert only traded back in the first round once, when the team moved from No. 16 to No. 19 to select defensive lineman Casey Hampton, while also picking up an extra fourth and sixth-round pick in the process. Obviously, Colbert is no longer the team’s GM, and Omar Khan will enter this offseason with a chance to really make his mark on the team during his first full offseason at the helm. It’ll be interesting to see if Khan feels differently and may be more open to a trade-back.
A trade back for the Steelers would certainly enhance their already favorable draft capital. Currently, the Steelers hold the No. 14, No. 34 and No. 46 selections in the draft. That No. 34 selection is also the 33rd pick of the draft, as the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick due to a tampering investigation. The question for Pittsburgh, as is the question for every team who moves back, is would the Steelers rather grab a higher-rated talent or load up with more current or future picks to add more pieces to plug their holes.
With three top 50 selections, the Steelers will have an opportunity to add three talented players who can come in and make an immediate impact. But moving back an adding more picks, which likely would come on Day 2 of the draft, could allow the Steelers to address their needs more broadly while potentially sacrificing a little bit of talent. Frankly, given the nature of the NFL Draft where you can never really know who is going to develop, having more picks to potentially hit on a future starter or Pro Bowler isn’t a bad thing.
When it comes down to it, the Steelers will have to trust their scouting and evaluation process and decide if they’re ok potentially missing out on a higher-ranked player to have more picks and give Omar Khan and Andy Weidl a chance to really put their stamp on the team.