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

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Trading Down: Attractive Scenarios Galore for Pittsburgh

As you’re probably wondering: “What positions is he talking about?  And why don’t the Steelers need them in Round 1?”  Well, the two positions in particular are 4-3 Pass Rushing Defensive Ends/3-4 Outside Linebackers, and 4-3 Defensive Tackles, and while Pittsburgh is not so much in the market for them on Days 1 & 2, other teams around the N.F.L. are, and would love to be in Pittsburgh’s shoes in Round 1.

Teams In Need of Pass Rushers

I believe that teams would be interested in trading up to the 24th selection from the 2nd Round to take a pass-rushing specialist, because of what lies directly below Pittsburgh.  New England has picks at both #27 and #31, Green Bay is at #28, and even Baltimore at #29 will be looking to add some depth and future starters to help with their pass rushes, and all three (four picks total) could be interested in going that direction in Round 1.  That being said, teams in the early to mid-2nd Round like Indianapolis at #33, Buffalo at #41, Miami at #42, Seattle at #43, Dallas at #44, and San Diego at #49 might not be willing to stand pat and wait for a specific pass-rusher to fall to them.

There could be as many as five pass-rushing specialists available at #24 in the forms of Nick Perry DE/OLB of Southern Cal, Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB of Illinois, DE/OLB Shea McClellin of Boise State, DE/OLB Andre Branch of Clemson, and DE/OLB Chandler Jones of Syracuse.  In addition, if teams are scared that Defensive End Quinton Coples of North Carolina might not be an “effort guy,” he might even be in the mix in the early-mid 20’s as well.  Thus, with Pittsburgh sitting in front of the Patriots, Packers, and Ravens, these teams from early Round 2 could work out a deal with the Steelers to trade up and take who they want.

Teams in Need of Defensive Tackles

This aforementioned scenario for Pittsburgh is not limited to swapping picks with teams in need of pass-rushers.  In fact, there exist a number Defensive Tackles could begin to come off the board like “hot-cakes” late in Round 1.  Come the end of the 1st Round, Devon Still of Penn State, Kendall Reyes of Connecticut, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, and even Michael Brockers (he might be gone by #24 though) should be available to a number of teams looking for help at Defensive Tackle, and they are numerous   As for teams in need of Defensive Tackle help behind Pittsburgh in Round 1, there is Denver at #25, New England at #27 and #31, Green Bay at #28 (likely for Still or Reyes) could use some depth on D-Line, and even the Giants at #32 could go B.P.A. for a Defensive Tackle as well.

But just like the pass rusher situation, there are numerous teams in early Round 2 which could be viable trading partners with Pittsburgh if they choose to acquire the prospect of their choice before one of the other teams in Round 1 has a chance to pick them.  St. Louis at #33 and #39, Minnesota at #35, Carolina at #40, and possibly Philadelphia at #46 and #51 (if they don’t go D-Line in Round 1) all could use significant upgrades at Defensive Tackle.

Yet one must ask what could Pittsburgh receive in return if they decided to trade out of the 1st Round with one of these teams.  Furthermore, one must ask what types of players would be available for the Steelers to take if they chose to move down, and if it would be a good idea altogether.  Let’s see if I can break it down here:

Moving Down, Net Gain, Who Pittsburgh Could Go After

So what exactly would Pittsburgh receive in return for moving down though?  Well, for an even trade (according to the CBS Sportsline Draft Value Board), it’s safe to say that Pittsburgh would likely receive a 2nd, a 3rd Round pick as compensation for their 24th selection.  Yet depending on how desperate another team is to move up for a prospect, Colbert and Co. could receive even more in exchange if the situation presents itself.  If the Steelers do find themselves modestly armed with two 2nd Rounders and two 3rd Rounders, they would actually be in a pretty favorable scenario to select quality players and future starters.  What makes the scenario that much more enticing is that they would have their pick of numerous players at positions of need to boot.

As I’ve discussed before, as a consensus, Pittsburgh’s biggest roster needs exist at Inside Linebacker, Offensive Guard, Nose Tackle, and Offensive Tackle.  Luckily for the Steelers, in Rounds 2 & 3 there will be some terrific players available at each position, and some other prospects available at other positions which Pittsburgh could take a chance on with their multiple picks in both Rounds.

In terms of Inside Linebackers to be had in Round 2, Mychal Kendricks and Bobby Wagner should be available, and both would be terrific selections to play next to Timmons for the next 7-10 years.  As for Offensive Linemen, the versatile Guard/Tackles in the forms of Kelechi Osemele of Iowa State and Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State will be around in Round 2, if the Steelers ultimately decide to go in that direction.  Or, if Pittsburgh is looking for Tackles, they could find value in the experienced Zebrie Sanders of Florida State (who can play either spot) or Mississippi’s Bobby Massie.

There are plenty of options for Pittsburgh to select from in Round 3, and with two picks there a numerous potential difference-makers to be had.  Brandon Brooks of Miami (OH) and Brandon Washington of Miami (FL) project as big-bodied and road-grading Guards, and could instantly compete for starting spots at either position.  If Pittsburgh elects to take a Tackle in Round 3, they could find terrific value and a potential starter in California’s Mitchell Schwartz or James Brown of Troy (who some project as a Guard).  Also, in Rounds 2-3, two experienced and highly rated Nose Tackle prospects will be on the board in the forms of the experienced Alameda Ta’amu of Washington, the hopefully healthy but extremely talented Josh Chapman of Alabama, and the high-motor and stoutly built Mike Martin of Michigan.

Pittsburgh might not go in all of their “need” directions though in the 2nd and 3rd Rounds.  If that happens, the Steelers could be intrigued to take any number of players which would satisfy a B.P.A. scenario, and add more difference-makers to the roster.  Defensive End/Outside Linebacker (with 3-4 and 4-3 experience) Cam Johnson of Virginia (who actually visited with the team recently) could come off the board early in the 3rd Round.  Safeties Brandon Taylor of Louisiana State and Antonio Allen of South Carolina (he played the versatile “in-the-box” Spur position with the Gamecocks) will also likely be around in Round 3.  Or in the event that Pittsburgh looks to upgrade on the Offensive side of the ball, they could look at a Running Back like Isaiah Pead in Round 3, and possibly even a field-stretching WR to develop along the lines of Tommy Streeter of Miami (FL).

Final Thoughts on Trading Down

If the Steelers elect to trade down, I won’t say that I will A) be shocked or B) be angry.  In fact, I will be tremendously interested in seeing how Colbert and Co. use the extra selections after they are given to them if Pittsburgh moves down.  Furthermore, it will be interesting to see exactly the situation surrounding why they would move down (i.e. nobody available in Round 1, grades on available players like Hightower not high enough, proposed offers too great to pass up at time, etc..)

If the Steelers want to move down, they would be wise to feel out offers from teams with multiple picks in Round 2 like St. Louis and Philadelphia, and/or multiple picks in Round 3 like Miami.  These teams covet prospects at the positions which could go off the board quickly after #24 (DE/OLB, DT), and might be willing to make a deal.  And most importantly, moving down could ultimately work to Pittsburgh’s advantage because of the number of talented players available to them at positions of need in Rounds 2 & 3.  Thus, if Pittsburgh finds itself unable to get the value it wants out of the 24th selection, there should be a number of teams willing to take the pick off of the Steelers’ hands.

Final Thoughts Overall

These are just a few of the thoughts running through my head right now while I await the intrigue and excitement that is next Thursday (and Friday and Saturday as well).  Who knows though, maybe Pittsburgh could surprise with their pick in Round 1 and take an under-the-radar prospect at a position they do not have an extreme need at in a B.P.A. scenario like Nick Perry, Shea McClellin, or Courtney Upshaw (if available).  Regardless of who they select, keep a close eye out on Draft Day for movement all around the 1st Round.  The Steelers have 10 picks, and I’m just stoked to see how they use them.

Now it’s time to hear from you the readers.  What should Pittsburgh do in Round 1?  Up, Stand Pat, Down?  Which players should they trade up for?  Which should they just wait until #24 to select?  Or is there added value like I described above in moving out of Round 1?  Let me know, I’m interested.  Also, if you’re curious, take a look at my latest, most updated Mock Draft for more information on the prospects I’ve discussed.