Let’s be frank here. Omar Khan has never run a draft before. Even if he’s seen it happen dozens of times firsthand, it’s never something he’s been responsible for in making the key decisions about what names are going to be on the cards.
That’s not a knock on him. That’s saying we don’t know exactly what he’s going to do. Many seem to believe he is more willing to be aggressive than his predecessor, that being Kevin Colbert. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler seems to be among them. Indeed, he can see a bold move happening in the first round.
Not necessarily trading up from 17, but rather trading back into the first round from 32, the first pick in the second round. Asked what the Steelers’ plans are for that selection, he told Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller on 93.7 The Fan, “I think they’re considering moving up with that pick. They realize they’re in a rare position with that”.
The Steelers haven’t held the first pick on any day of any draft in a long time. The first pick in the second round is often regarded as a coveted possession, but that’s usually perceived more as teams trading up to get it rather than teams moving up from it back into the first. But there is logic, here, actually.
While Fowler acknowledged they could “go either way” with the pick in the sense of either trading up or down, he noted, “typically the Steelers like a blue-chip guy”, and “If they identify a player like that, I don’t think they would be afraid to use that 32nd pick to move up”.
The thing is, we’ve heard from many around the league that there aren’t many players with first-round grades on them within any given team. It seems as though there may only be 15-20 players that a team might actually give a first-round grade to.
I don’t know exactly how the Steelers grade now with Khan and Andy Weidl in the general manager and assistant roles, but they will obviously have a sense of who they would be willing to draft in the first round and who they would be more comfortable with in the second.
If the Steelers have a guy they see as one of their “special” players slipping into the mid-20s after taking another of those special players at 17, I can definitely see them trading up to get him. Colbert was always willing to be more aggressive when he had more ammunition, too.
The Devin Bush trade was obviously a prime example, having an extra third-round pick thanks to the Antonio Brown trade. They also once traded a future third-round pick for a fourth-round pick because they had a good idea that they would be getting a third-round compensatory pick the following year to make up for it.
This year they have picks 32 and 49, the former thanks to the Chase Claypool trade. When is the last time they have even been in a position to make a move that would allow them to draft two players in the first round? The more I think about it, the more plausible it sounds based on the Steelers’ track record—even not knowing what we don’t know.