Options, Projections, and Ramblings on the Steelers and Round 1 of the Draft

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We’re now heading into the home-stretch and are rapidly approaching the always eventful N.F.L. Draft Weekend.  After weeks and months of team visits by prospects, smoke-screens, and prospect write-ups galore, we will finally be able to see how the Draft all unfolds.  Because we are only a week away from the momentous occasion, I figured that today would be a good opportunity to talk about different directions Pittsburgh could go in Round 1,  discuss a number of certain prospects Pittsburgh could have their eyes on, and the pluses/minuses of what it would take for the franchise to acquire them.  Let’s get started shall we:

Trade Up from #24: Could It Happen?

Kevin Colbert has been no stranger to trading up in Round 1 before, and his forays into the top of the draft board during his tenure have netted Pittsburgh a future Hall of Famer named Troy Polamalu (16th Pick 2003), and a Super Bowl MVP in the form of Santonio Holmes (25th Pick 2006).  While I don’t believe (as I will get to later) that Pittsburgh will move up, I still figure that I should add it to the discussion.

As of right now, there are four players Pittsburgh which could trade up to select if they eventually fell down to a reasonable area in Round 1: Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin of Stanford, Offensive Guard/Offensive Tackle Cordy Glenn of Georgia, Cornerback Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, and even Inside Linebacker Luke Kuechly of Boston College (if a miracle occurs.)

Where Should the Steelers Move to Acquire One?

To me, the best move to make for each of these prospects would be waiting and gauging what Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Jets do at picks 14-16.  .  Pittsburgh has to upgrade their Offensive Line, and if both talented guys are just out of Pittsburgh’s reach, it might be worth it to trade up to acquire one if they are deemed too good to pass up by Colbert and Co..  To get Kuechly, Pittsburgh would need to trade with Dallas and Dallas only, because Philadelphia has Linebacker needs and if he somehow falls past Carolina at #9, Kansas City at #11, Seattle at #12, and Arizona at #13, Pittsburgh would have to pounce and pounce quickly.

As for the other three prospects, Dallas, Philadelphia at #15, and New York at #16 would be good trading partners because they are in a spot right before Offensive Line and Cornerback hungry teams like Cincinnati (2x), San Diego, Chicago, Tennessee, Cleveland, and Detroit select.  By trading in front of all of these teams from #17 to #23, Pittsburgh could ensure they would get either Lineman or Gilmore and be at ease.  As nice as this sounds though, nothing in life is free, and moving up 8-10 spots costs a considerable amount which might outweigh the benefit in the long run as I will illustrate below.

Why Trading Up Could Be Too Expensive

After consulting CBS Sportsline’s Draft Value Chart (it lists the value of each pick according to the Round and number), it would likely take Pittsburgh at least a 2nd, a 6th, and possibly a 7th Round pick this season, and possibly a future pick to move up to the #14 to #16 range.  Personally, the only prospect I believe is worth trading up for is Kuechly who is just a tackling machine, smart and experienced player, and is a 3-Down Linebacker that would be a perfect replacement for the departed James Farrior.

To me, while Glenn and Martin would be great additions to the Offensive Line, giving up a #2, a #6, a #7, plus possibly more in the future does not justify moving up to get them.  In a deep draft at Offensive Line (especially at Guard), Pittsburgh would be better served to wait at #24, because both players have an outside chance of falling to them if teams like Cincinnati, Chicago, Tennessee, Cleveland, and Detroit decide to trade back or look elsewhere besides Offensive Line.

With Stephon Gilmore it’s a similar situation as the one the Steelers face with Glenn and Martin.  While his addition to the Secondary would be nice, moving up to the #14-#16 range and giving up a bevy of picks would be a bit frivolous for a position which might have some emerging starters in Allen, Brown, and even Lewis.  Plus, Gilmore is rapidly moving up draft boards, and I doubt that Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Detroit would pass on him if he fell to them.  If by chance he falls to #24, then Pittsburgh has a decision on their hands, but if he doesn’t, then there are plenty of options for them to go with at their original spot in the 1st Round next week.

Final Thoughts on Moving Up

I’ll reiterate it again, but moving up for Martin, Glenn, or Gilmore might be a bit too expensive in terms of the picks given up to acquire one of them for Pittsburgh.  Added to that is the fact that there are numerous quality Offensive Linemen (especially Guards) that Pittsburgh can acquire in Rounds 2-5, and Pittsburgh can likely make due with their Corners for at least one more season.  Plus, if Brown and Allen step up their games on the Defensive side of the once maligned Cornerback spot could turn into a strength.  But if Kuechly somehow falls to Dallas, or even to Philadelphia or New York if they don’t consider him an option, Pittsburgh has to at least consider trading up to get him.