The Pittsburgh Steelers did something relatively uncommon in their recent history and traded up in Round One of the 2023 NFL Draft for Georgia tackle Broderick Jones. One of the big storylines of trading up to 14 from 17 was that the Steelers had to trade up in front of the New York Jets, who many thought wanted to draft Jones. However, today Steelers general manager Omar Khan explained that trading up wasn’t just to get in front of the Jets but also to get in front of other teams around them.
Khan joined Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller on 93.7 The Fan and said why he felt he needed to trade up.
“Every year when you go into the draft you prepare and try and get an understanding of what people’s needs are around you,” Khan said. “Really everyone but specifically the team that are around you. People mention the Jets, but there were also other teams behind us that we didn’t want to take a chance of moving up, that could have moved up and acquired Broderick.”
Jones was one of the best tackles in this year’s draft class and with tackle class not being the deepest, it was important for the Steelers to go up and get their guy. Khan makes a good point of also needing to be aware of needs of teams surrounding them in the draft as they also could have made a move to jump in front of the Steelers at 17 if Jones was not taken by the Jets at 15.
While no other team took a tackle until the Jacksonville Jaguars did at pick 27, who’s to say another team slightly behind Pittsburgh may have wanted to trade up to 16 for Jones but didn’t want to spend a pick in the late teens/early twenties on tackle Anton Harrison?
These conversations don’t really matter now because the Steelers traded up for Jones, but it does show the shrewdness of Khan by knowing that someone else may want his “guy” and doing what he has to to secure his top choice.
In addition, trading up for Jones may have helped the Steelers draft class be even better. It’s known that the Steelers really liked cornerback Joey Porter Jr., to the point where Khan said at 32 because he was on the board they weren’t going to trade down, so maybe they would have taken him at 17. If they take Porter at 17 and Harrison isn’t there at 32, then where do the Steelers go to grab a tackle?
If Khan doesn’t move up for Jones because of what he knew about teams around the Steelers, Pittsburgh’s draft class may not be as good as it looks right now. We don’t know how well this draft class will look in a few years, but as of right now Khan’s aggressiveness to go out and Broderick Jones looks very smart.