The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, but their victory did not come without consequences to their draft capital.
Winning is the ultimate goal in the NFL. As former Jets head coach once said, “You play to win the game!” We know how much the Pittsburgh Steelers value winning, and we all know what it means to Mike Tomlin. There isn’t a chance in the world this organization would ever consider taking for draft capital.
However, there reaches a point when it almost makes sense to do so. Entering Week 10, Pittsburgh’s offense ranked 31st or worse in the NFL in points scored per game, yards per play, and yards per pass attempt. These were not encouraging signs for a team that recently sat on a 2-6 record.
After showing up to play against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, the Steelers were able to come away with their third victory of the season. However, now sitting at 3-6, their season still dangles by a thread. This win didn’t come without consequence. Prior to Sunday’s game, Pittsburgh would have held the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. After the results of Week 10, they now hold the 10th overall pick, according to Tankathon.com.
While this might not seem like a massive change, this could be the difference between grabbing an elite, generational talent as opposed to taking a quality first-round prospect who isn’t guaranteed to turn out (much like Devin Bush when he was the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft).
What should the Steelers do moving forward?
To many, there is only one right answer here, and that is to fight tooth and nail to win every football game. If the Steelers can fight back to a winning record at this point, perhaps they would deserve to make the playoffs. However, the chances of finishing with even a .500 record at this point are fading fast.
Though this young team needs to start stacking wins on top of each other to build confidence and to continue to show improvement, it’s also no secret at this point that Pittsburgh has a talent deficiency. They haven’t naturally picked inside the top 10 since taking Plaxico Burress in 2000. While they’ve made plenty of outstanding picks since this time, their lack of elite talent is really starting to show. This is largely due to drafting poorly overall since 2015.
The Steelers could use just about every position across the offensive line in addition to lacking quality cornerbacks and linebackers. Even when healthy, their starting lineup is average at best and their depth is arguably among the worst in the league across the board.
If the Steelers are going to fall short of making the playoffs this year, their positioning in the draft will matter. Obviously, this team isn’t going to tank, but every win could mean the difference between landing a blue-chip player or reaching for a position of need in the first round.
Pittsburgh has games coming up in the second half of the year against the Colts, Falcons, Panthers, and Raiders. How they perform down the stretch will determine whether or not they get a high draft choice. Let’s hope this turns out to be a win-win scenario either way.