Who do the Steelers target if they trade up to the 9th selection in the NFL Draft?

Ohio State Buckeyes Luke Wypler  and offensive tackle Paris Johnson work out during Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes Luke Wypler and offensive tackle Paris Johnson work out during Ohio State / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA
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Jalen Carter DL, Georgia

No sooner than the rumors started about a possible trade with the Bears then, pundits started posting rumors that a trade-up indicates the Steelers are targeting Jalen Carter rather than an offensive tackle.

We know that in addition to offensive lineman, Mike Tomlin is interested in either a defensive lineman or an edge rusher. However, nothing at this point has indicated they would use their first pick on that position, but that does not mean they might not take one in the second round. Nevertheless, many now think the trade to 9 means the Steelers want Jalen Carter, not Paris Johnson. There are several problems with that theory.

Coming into the draft, we know Carter has had several off-field legal issues to be addressed. The legal issues lead to certain risk factors that the Steelers must consider. Will his off-field problems continue if they draft him? Certainly, it might be a situation the Steelers might want to avoid, especially for a first-round draft choice considering how much money will be invested in him.

Another more pertinent question is that even if the Steelers want to draft Jalen Carter, would he even be available on the 9th selection? If one is to believe any of the mock drafts out there, there is approximately a 75% chance he is drafted by the 8th pick. Thus he may be off the board long before selection nine.

Of course, others have speculated Carter could fall unexpectedly, and thus if that’s the case, he could still be on the board by the 17th selection. Therefore given the broad interest in Carter by other NFL clubs, if the Steelers want him, they would be better served by trying to trade up to pick five, but that would expend a lot more draft capital, especially for a player with the potential of falling anyway. This means the notion of the Steelers targeting Carter may be more speculation than fact.      

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Nevertheless, assuming he clears up his legal issues, he has the potential to be a valuable addition and could make the Steelers pass rush fearsome as offensive lines try to stop him, Cam Heyward, and T.J. Watt. A scenario like that could be fun to watch.