The Steelers go into the 2016 draft with no draft picks in the 5th and 6th rounds. Though they tend to stand pat in the first round, it wouldn’t be without precedence to see them trade down and accumulate a few extra picks to compensate for those they have lost. Is this the year that the Steelers might actually trade down?
In 2001, the Steelers traded down from the #16 overall pick to the #19 pick. With that pick they acquired nose tackle Casey “Big Snack” Hampton. The New York Jets also gave Pittsburgh their 4th and 6th round picks. This same sort of scenario may present itself to the Steelers if the front office goes into this draft with the feeling that there is good value in the latter part of the first round or even the first half of the second round.
A few things may have to happen for this to become a real possibility.
First of all, Pittsburgh may have to delve into free agency to fortify their secondary. They have pretty much all but confirmed that they will be making a move in that direction. Lets say, for example, that they are able to land cornerback Patrick Robinson.
Robinson, has flown under the radar for most fans outside of the San Diego area. He placed second in the league at cornerback, allowing only 8.9 yards per reception and held opposing quarterbacks to a NFL passer rating of 74.0. If the Steelers can sign a defensive back of this caliber to their roster it makes the likelihood of a first round trade more plausible.
Secondly, the Steelers would have to find a trade partner. Just as Pittsburgh could use the dysfunction of the Chargers front office to their advantage by luring away one of their unrestricted free agents, they could also take advantage of a team like the Rams who desperately need to make a splash in this draft. They have already openly talked about a willingness to trade and the Rams currently are in possession of two coveted second round picks.
By using free agency to eliminate their glaring need for a cornerback in round one, the Steelers could afford to trade with the Rams and pick up a 2nd, 3rd and 6th round pick, according to the draft value chart. That would give us draft picks of 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 7th, and a possible a compensatory pick in the 7th round. Plenty of picks to shore up a leaky secondary and to add depth at needed positions with young talent.
Yes, I know this is all speculation. But plug in any of the free agent defensive backs like safety Eric Weddle, cornerback Morris Claiborne, or cornerback Trumaine Johnson, then look at teams that might be willing or needing to trade up in this draft, and you can see the real possibility of this being the year that the Steelers trade down.
Again, though the common perception is that the Steelers let the draft come to them, history has actually shown that they are willing to trade if the perfect situation presents itself. Those trades have landed us players like Hampton, Troy Polamalu, and in a round about way, all-pro Antonio Brown.
This is what draftniks live for. The very thing that makes the NFL draft so complex with its fluid probabilities and its numerous scenarios, is what makes the NFL draft so incredibly intriguing.