Steelers will have a surplus of options at pick 20 in the NFL Draft

While picking in the latter half of the first round is usually a bad thing, the Steelers should benefit from a strong grouping of players to choose from.
Hall of Famer Franco Harris announces Pittsburgh quaterback Kenny
Hall of Famer Franco Harris announces Pittsburgh quaterback Kenny / Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers may just have the perfect draft spot with the twentieth overall pick. On the surface, a pick that late is where you start to see that first-round talent begin to dwindle. Talent is still there, but your sure-fire top prospects are typically gone by that point.

This year seems to be quite the opposite for the Steelers, as both the draft's strengths and their needs align well in the first round. No matter what, there should be options there, and perhaps even enough to trade back and still secure a good player at a position of need. I fully expect there to be a surplus of options once Pittsburgh is on the board in the first round.

What do the Steelers need at pick 20?

Let's break this down by the numbers. Assuming no trade back before the pick, 19 total players will be selected before the Steelers or on the clock. With needs at offensive tackle, center, and cornerback (the foreseeable first-round targets based on the team's predraft interests).

Let’s start at quarterback. A position that notoriously gets pushed up boards, six names could conceivably go in the first round, and three are almost locks to be the first three picks in this class. Assuming J.J. McCarthy also gets the nod early as is expected, that is an easy four names that will push other players down the board. I’ll split the difference between Michael Penix and Bo Nix as well, so let's assume five quarterbacks go in the top 19 picks.

You also have a trio of receivers that are locked to go early in the draft. While a need, Joe Alt is certain to go in the top ten, so we don’t need to factor him in. Also, Brock Bowers is almost a lock to be gone before pick 20, so we can already knock off ten picks before the Steelers pick.

We haven’t even touched the defense yet. While not as top-heavy as the offense, I would expect at least two edge rushers to go off the board. Dallas Turner may go top ten while I would expect either Jared Verse or Laiatu Latu to also be drafted before the Steelers are up. Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold are the top two cornerbacks and are also likely off the board. That takes up 14 spots. You can also argue that at least one of the defensive tackles are off the board, but I am less certain of that and won’t project it.

All of this hasn’t included the offensive tackles (besides Alt). You have five names that make sense in the first round as well as Graham Barton, who projects to move to the interior of the line. Add in the next wave of cornerback names like Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins, and Kool-Aid McKinstry and you have nine names that should interest the Steelers. Even if five of them go off the board, you still have four to choose from at pick 20.

That alone is a strong number, but when you tie in the remainder of the projected first-round options (three more receivers, two more edge rushers, the aforementioned two defensive linemen) and you have a surplus of names that could continue to push down prospects of interest for the Steelers down the board.

This means one of two things. Pittsburgh has almost no need to trade up in round one, as they should have multiple logical names available to them at pick 20. They can also afford to trade down, as there will likely be multiple names on their board with whom they are comfortable with, so a trade back won’t risk them getting stuck without a player they like.

Next. Most likely Steelers center target by round of the NFL Draft. Most likely Steelers center target by round of the NFL Draft. dark

While a pick in the latter half of the first round is usually a negative thing, it actually favors what the Steelers need this year well. With quarterbacks jumping other names in addition to the talented offensive prospects as a whole, Pittsburgh should have more than one option when they are finally on the clock. It will just be a matter of selecting the right player from that group.