Could Steelers have landed a franchise quarterback if they still had first round pick?
The Steelers traded away their first-round pick in 2020 for Dolphins safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Could they have landed a franchise quarterback this year with the pick they traded away?
Before I even begin, I want to start by saying that the Pittsburgh Steelers made the right move by trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Though I knew it would be incredibly difficult to really make a playoff run last year without Ben Roethlisberger, Minkah has proven to be an All-Pro player and one of the most valuable defensive chess pieces in the NFL.
Having said that, allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment and consider the possibilities had Pittsburgh not dealt their first-round pick to Miami a season ago. If the deal for Fitzpatrick wasn’t made last season, could the Steelers have landed a franchise quarterback in the draft?
The Steelers finished with a record of 8-8 last sesaon and Miami currently holds what would have been the 18th overall pick for Pittsburgh. But things may not have turned out entirely the same without one of the NFL’s best playmakers on our defense this year.
Against the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 9, Minkah had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown in a game where the Steelers won by just 2 points. The following week, Fitzpatrick had a 43-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in a five-point win over the Los Angeles Rams.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Fitzpatrick made a two-game difference for Pittsburgh last sesaon, and perhaps they would have finished as a 6-10 football team without his remarkable performances in 2019.
This means they would have been picking as high as the Jaguars and the Browns at picks 9 and 10 overall. That in itself would have given them all the firepower they would need to move up and grab their future franchise signal-caller.
Joe Burrow is going to be drafted number one overall this year by the Cincinnati Bengals – we can already lock that pick in. Assuming Tua Tagovailoa’s health checks come back positive, he could be the second quarterback off the board – possibly within the top five picks.
However, Justin Herbert is a player who is gaining a ton of steam after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, and it’s entirely possible that all three could end up going somewhere in the first 6 picks of the draft.
If the Steelers possessed a first-round pick between 9 and 11 overall this year, trading up for a player like Tagovailova or Herbert is incredibly feasible. According to DraftTek’s trade value chart, packaging their hypothetical first-round pick with their second-round pick (49 overall) could get them as high as the 4th overall pick this year.
With the Redsins (2nd overall pick) and the Giants (4th overall pick) both taking quarterbacks in the first round last season, Pittsburgh may have had their pick of franchise passers this year.
Again, this scenario is entirely hypothetical, but it’s one that is worth thinking about. Obviously, the Steelers landed a terrific player when they traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick last year, and I’m sure Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert couldn’t be happier with the way things have worked out. However, if Pittsburgh had their original first-round pick, it’s very possible they would be drafting their future franchise quarterback this season.