Could A Trade Up In Round One Be In The Cards For The Steelers?

By Cian Fahey

There are two players the Pittsburgh Steelers should consider trading up for in the upcoming draft, both on offense.

Back in 2008, one year into the Mike Tomlin-era in Pittsburgh, the Steelers entered the NFL draft expected to make moves to improve their porous offensive line. Instead of spending a first round pick on tackle Duane Brown, the only offensive lineman taken in the first round after the Steelers picked 23rd, the Steelers brought in running-back Rashard Mendenhall.

The Illinois runner was a surprising choice for the Steelers as Willie Parker was still fast Willie at the time and Mendenhall was expected to be long gone by the time Kevin Colbert and Tomlin got a chance to bring in a prospect. With a new weapon added to the offense, the Steelers were expected to make a move on the offensive line in the second round.

Limas Sweed was the team\’s second round pick that year. Sweed, a wide receiver who never made the impact the team expected him to, was drafted along with Mendenhall to diversify the offensive attack and overcome any shortcomings on the line with greater weapons.

While that direction ultimately didn\’t land where the map said it would, the Steelers still won a Super Bowl that year and have appeared in another since.

This year, the Steelers still have offensive line issues entering the draft as it wouldn\’t shock anyone to see them draft a tackle or guard to protect Ben Roethlisberger upfront. In comparison to most teams however, the Steelers have very few needs.

Colbert yesterday essentially said that they have no needs but instead called their needs “wants”. He also said that there were not many sure fire players in this draft.

With those factors in mind, it would not shock me if the Steelers decided to trade up in the first round of the draft. There are two players in my mind who the Steelers would be willing to trade up for in the draft if they slipped far enough. It\’s easy to understand why David DeCastro would interest the team, however the other may need some persuasion on my part.

Many of you are Isaac Redman fans. It makes sense. Redman is a good runner who gives his all and has a running style that is a lot more…let\’s say…Steelers-like than Mendenhall\’s ever was.

The thing about Redman is however that he is limited and won\’t ever scare defenses. He is not a good blocker, his running style is aggressive but not dynamic and his inability as a receiver is glaringly obvious for all to see. As I previously pointed out, I don\’t believe Redman can ever truly replace Mendenhall as a feature back.

Past Redman, the Steelers don\’t have any players who aren\’t going against the odds to be capable NFL backs. Jonathan Dwyer showed minimal flashes in his second season, while many people have high hopes for Baron Batch. Much of the hype surrounding Batch is just hype.

He may turn into the next superstar receiving back, but the reality is that Batch is a seventh round pick coming off a major knee injury without even playing a down in a pre-season game to this point in his career. As a committee, the Steelers\’ running back stable is not proven and they certainly don\’t have a feature back without Mendenhall.

Feature backs aren\’t necessities in today\’s NFL, but they are very helpful pieces to have.

You\’ve probably already figured it out, but the other player who I believe the Steelers should be willing to trade up for, if he falls far enough, is Alabama\’s Trent Richardson.

Richardson may be projected as a top five pick in the draft, but on draft day monumental falls have occurred in the past while evaluating where running-backs will go is always an almost impossible task. Last year, Richardson\’s former teammate, Mark Ingram suffered a similar slide before the New Orleans Saints traded back into the first round to draft him.

If Richardson falls as far as 14th overall, the Steelers should be looking to move up and grab him.

Richardson is a feature back. To some he is considered as good a prospect as Adrian Peterson. With Mendenhall\’s torn ACL and only one year left on his deal, the Steelers cannot turn a blind eye to taking a running back as high as round one or trading up for one.

Richardson is seen as a guy who offenses will draft to build their offense around. His value to those teams is very high. However, his value to the Steelers is even greater because the Steelers would not be drafting him to be the mainstay of their offense, they would be drafting him to play in what is now a passing offense.

Having a running back who scares defenses, with the Steelers\’ quality on the outside and under center, would wreak havoc on the field. How would any team line up to matchup with the Steelers\’ receivers without exposing their defensive backs to Richardson who would simply run over them in the open field.

Richardson isn\’t too dissimilar to Todd Haley\’s last feature back in Arizona, Edgerrin James, who also played in a pass first offense. The greatest difference would be that Richardson would be way ahead of his prime whereas James was coming to the climax of his career.

Offensively, the Steelers don\’t have any real needs except for on the offensive line. If Max Starks is indeed healthy in Mid-July like he previously stated he would be, the Steelers could re-sign him. Bringing Starks back would give the Steelers a good offensive line, if not great, with Willie Colon moving to guard.

Defensively, the Steelers still have some uncertainties at nose tackle and inside linebacker. However, Larry Foote affords them time to wait for Stevenson Sylvester to develop for another year at linebacker while Steve McLendon and a late free agent addition could fill the void Casey Hampton leaves until he is able to return, if he is able to return.

The last similar move to this prospective trade was made by the San Diego Chargers for another running back, Ryan Mathews. The Mathews\’ trade didn\’t cost the Chargers as much as you would think it would. In order to move up to the 12th overall pick, the Chargers gave up their first, second, and fourth round picks along with linebacker Tim Dobbins in exchange for the 12th pick and a fourth and sixth round pick.

If you take away the fourth and sixth round picks, the Steelers could potentially move up high enough to draft Richardson by giving up a first and second round pick while also sending Redman or a player of that level to the proposed partner team.

It would certainly be a very aggressive move but not completely out of character for this franchise\’s front office. The scenario is unlikely as Richardson first needs to fall before the option of trading up even becomes plausible, however these things must be considered and the Steelers shouldn\’t be too shy to invest in a quality running back like Richardson.

One way to overcome a defense (potentially) with holes in it is to start scoring more points on the other side. The Steelers could potentially be the most balanced offense, even team, in football next year with Richardson at tailback.

It may sound like a Madden move, but it really isn\’t that far-fetched or illogical when you break it down.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf

  • Huskie

    Richardson will not slide far enough for the Steelers to trade up to get him. As much as I would love to see him end up a Steeler, we have too many other glaring needs, he’s too great of a prospect to believe no other team would jump to pick him, and there’s too much talent at runningback in the 2nd for us to wait and grab someone there if we want.

  • Intropy

    If the Chiefs don’t select Kuechly he could end up sliding a ways. He’s someone I would consider moving up for were he to get within striking distance.

  • It’s quite possible. Colbert stated in his recent press conference, that he felt that there was 10-12 legit first round talents in this draft. If it takes moving up to get one of those players, I see no reason why Colbert wouldn’t try to make a move up the draft board. He’s done it before.

  • I wonder though, is the difference between Kuechly and Hightower so great that one is worth trading up for when you could most likely take the other without moving?

  • Nik Greene

    Your comparison to the Chargers getting Mathews is interesting, but I don’t know if it applies now. With the new CBA early round draft picks are more valuable, so the Steelers would probably have to give up more picks/players, and receive less in return.

    Also, I would have to refute that wouldn’t be out of character for the Steelers front office. When was the last time they traded up significantly in the first round?

  • Kysteeler

    I do believe a trade up may be possible, I just do not see DeCastro going before 20th, and if he’s their they should pull the trigger. LB is more of a depth pick right now, we have no clue what we have in Sly, and NT doesn’t have a 1st round talent.

  • Harold

    There is no debate as to how highly Trent is rated, or even what a great fit he would be in Pittsburgh. The question becomes, wouldn’t the team be better served by drafting Cordy Glenn at 1.24 and Brandon Brooks at 2.24 and then a solid RB in the 3rd or 4th round?

    We spent a mid 1st rounder on Mendenhall, and then turned him into a dancing bear, because he was getting hit in the backfield every other snap. We need some OL who can blow open some holes first and foremost. Then we can talk about franchise RB’s. Just my opinion.

  • Bert

    DeCastro is the only logical choice.

  • Broderick Wallace

    Steelers already wasted a first round pick on Mendenhall. It would be plain stupid to move up in the first round to draft Richardson.

  • Bleebo77

    I agree that a trade-up possibility exists, but I think the 2 players most likely to entice the Steelers are Keuchly and Barron. They are both impact players who are at least a head above the others at their positions. Pitt has moved up in the past for Polamalu and Hampton, impact defensive players. (Holmes, too, on the offensive side.)

    DeCastro is good, but moving up for an OG seems like a reach, esp. with all the value at OG later on.

    Richardson is a top 5 player who’d be great for any team, but I just don’t see it for Pitt. RB is not the value position it once was, Pitt has a stable of young backs, and they’d have to give up a fortune of picks to get within striking distance of Richardson.

  • Bleebo77

    My sense is that it is, primarily b/c Keuchly is a 3-down ILB whose strength is coverage. Here’s a guy with Brian Urlacher measurables who is a tackling machine, picks off passes, and can cover. The knock on Hightower all along has been his limitations in coverage, thus making it hard to justify a 1st round pick on a 2-down player.

  • It depends on what your looking for, because both players excel in different areas. Kuechly compares much more favorably to Farrior in his prime. Hightower is better at rushing the QB. Kuechly is better at everything else. The biggest difference between the two, is Kuechly is an every down player. Not sure that the same thing can be said about Hightower.

  • Another thing to keep in mind, regarding Kuechly. He led the FBS in tackles in 2010, and 2011. In 2009, Kuechly was second in the nation in tackles, as a true freshman. His level of production was ridiculous.

  • Sonny

    bothe Kuechly and Hightower won’t last past 15

  • CR

    I would love to see them move up for Kuechly too if the opprotunity presented itself. Personally, if it came down to DeCastro or Kuechly I would prefer Kuechly. Don’t get me wrong DeCastro would be the next best pick though, IMO.

  • Bleebo77

    P.S. Why does it sometimes seem to take so long for comments to post? Sometimes it can be an hour or more. I keep returning to the page again and again waiting until my comment appears, by which time the convo has sometimes moved a different direction. It’s tough to reply to a conversation when it takes awhile for comments to appear. Can we have real time replies and trust users to self-monitor (and kick out folks who don’t)?

  • CR

    For one there is no way Richardson makes it past the Rams at 6th overall. And I am not sure they won’t even trade up for Richardson so Browns and Buccs don’t draft him. With that said, if Steelers wanted a RB bad enough, and given the fact that Richardson won’t make it out of the top 5, they could just draft Doug Martin 24th overall. He is similar in size and speed to Ricahrdson and a three down back. Why sell the house to move up for richardson even in the crazy senario that he fell to the middle somewhere when they could just stay put and Draft Martin 24th overall and not give up anything. I know Martin is not Richardson but I am not sure the the contrast between the two is all that stark! In addition, there is a very good chance Martin could be drafted in the first round by a team. If the Rams don’t move up to draft Richardson I think you can bank on them trying to draft Martin whether that be moving back into the 1st round with their 2nd round pick or moving to the top of the 2nd.

  • Randy Steele

    Well, given the previous posts on this site, it seems logical to conclude that the Steelers will be moving up in the draft to pick Coby Fleener.

  • Dave

    I’d be in favor of trading up if DeCastro (or maybe a few others – Kuechly, Mark Barron, Trent Richardson) fall into range.

    Look back to 2003, the Steelers traded up to get Polamalu. They gave up the 27, 92, and 200 picks to move up to 16. Basically, Polamalu for Larry Johnson, Julian Battle, and Brooks Bollinger. Lots of fans hated that deal at the time, especially when Troy didn’t do much as a rookie, but I think in 20-20 hindsight that deal in a no-brainer.

    In 2006, Steelers traded up for Santonio Holmes. Traded picks 32, 96, and 129 to move up to 25. Steelers got Holmes, Giants took Mathias Kiwanuka, Gerris Wilkerson, and Guy Whimper. Lot of Steeler fans wanted Lendale White at 32. Although Holmes didn’t work out long term, he was a Super Bowl MVP. Maybe we don’t have the 6th ring without him. I still take that deal.

    If DeCastro is the next Faneca and plays for the Steelers for 12 years, I don’t think too many people would think it’s a bad move.

  • EL

    There is no way Richardson falls that far. If he doesn’t go to the Browns at #4, he’ll get snatched up by the Bucs at #5. While it’s a nice fantasy to imagine getting someone like this in black and gold, I don’t see a snowball’s chance in Hades of it happening.

  • SteelersDepot

    Yeah I would suggest getting the Colts on the phone just in case they change their mind. :rollseyes:

  • SteelersDepot

    As I get to know more and more of the readership this will happen and will whitelist ones I think add value to the site instead of just trolling and acting 12 years old. Some people I just would rather go elsewhere as they bring nothing to the table. I don’t mind people disagreeing with post, but there is a good and bad way to do it.

  • Great point, bringing up the move to draft Polamalu. It just shows, that Colbert isn’t afraid to pull the trigger, to get a great player.

  • NA

    Wished they would have done it last year to get Mike Pouncey!

  • Bleebo77

    Very helpful – thanks! I think you have a lot of smart commenters, so a more “in real time” opportunity to offer comments would add a nice dynamic to the site. I also notice that comments are not always sorted in the order they were posted, which can make it hard to follow threads.

    Since I stumbled on SteelersDepot last summer it’s become by #1 go-to site for Steelers news and commentary!

  • Jake

    you’re right – if they could get richardson it would be worth doing something creative – we can hope but it’s not gonna happen. if he gets past Cleveland at 4 (they would be total idiots not to take him), then someone will get him in the 8-12 range.

  • Jprankster2005

    I don’t want a Running backk no earlier then 5th round we do need depth at every postition and replace alot of the old guys soon….. Yeah we will probably only draft 1 or 2 starters but don’t think running back is that big of deal we got 3 young backs that could do a great job…. Whats a rookie going to do….. He will be less proven then a Redman or Batch or Dwyer…. So doesnt really make any sense

  • Kenneth Wilt

    As a Steeler and PSU fan, I am a “run-first” person. Keep it on the ground and pound, pound, pound. That being said, I think those days are gone, even at PSU.

    I don’t see the need to give up a bunch of picks to get a RB, as they seem to be able to be gotten later in the draft.

    The Steelers move up and down in a draft for 2 reasons:

    1. They have a player they want. This typically requires the team have a need at a particular position or they believe the player is special. (ie see Holmes need, see Troy special)

    2. The don’t see someone they want left on the board that they couldn’t get some picks later.

    Colbert’s comments yesterday imply there isn’t anyone he is willing to trade up for, because I doubt we move all the way to #6 or #7. To me this draft will be a wait and see game. We will have a couple of guys pegged who we would take at that spot. We will have some guys pegged as, if they drop to XYZ spot, we will move on them, and they will have a list of guys who if they are the only ones left, they will move down to draft.

  • Robhenderson

    AS for trading up for DeCastro I wouldn’t because there are other Very good guards available in rd 2 or even at 24. Trent Richardson Mark Barron YES YOU TRADE UP FOR THEM.

    A solution, it seems by the reports that The Vikings want an impact player Heres an offer to be make that would make both teams happy.

    Steelers give Wallace,#24 & 56 for MInn #3 & 66. The bigger issue for The Steelers becomes RIchardson or Kalili? What are your thoughts.

  • Robhenderson

    I agree with you that we can get a back in 3rd or 4th rd. I’m still all for trading Wallace and made a suggestion to trade with Minn.

  • sweetleb

    don’t move up for a guard, richardson is gone at pick 4. steelers take a pass rushing olb or a guard that falls to them that is not a reach. my guess at pick 24 nick perry or gordy glenn

  • Wdmason

    I thought Redman was a good blocker. I bever heard otherwise besides from you. He may not scare defenses but he can wear them down. He can also catch the ball when needed and break a few tackle this has been proven. Only time will tell if he can last an entire season as a featured back.

  • Belvalle55

    Every year I do a mock draft and I am surprised by a few players that are taken much higher than they are ranked. That pushes value players down to the Steelers.

    I think that there are so many good players clustered at the end of the first round and second round that the value would be to trade down and get four good ranks players in the first 3 rounds.

  • CW

    Trent Richardson would cost way too much to move up to take him seeing as chances are he will not even be there at the 10th overall pick. Also only this past year was Richardson a break out player with more than 1600 rushing yards. That is worrisome because that is the exact same reason we took Mendenhall in 2008. While Mendenhall has been good, he was not the best running back in that draft class by a mile with both CJ2K and Ray Rice still on the draft board. What propelled Mendenhall up the board was that huge single season before the draft. However his earlier two seasons in college were much more pedestrian than what Ray Rice or Chris Johnson managed in college as an average number of yards per season.

    Besides I’m more impressed with Doug Martin. Doug Martin has shown a potential to be a second MJD type running back even for his small size. He’s ten pounds lighter than Richardson, but he’s two inches shorter. He’s produced a better average number of yards in his four college seasons than Richardson has produced in his three college seasons if you exclude each of their best single seasons.

  • Pete

    I would be shocked if the Steelers took a RB with their 1st pick. I’d be beyond shocked if they traded away their 1st, 3rd, and 4th (or 5th) to move up and take a RB. To me that would be stupid and the Steelers are anything but.

    They have a host of needs and this year every draft pick is important. If the Steelers were a team that was active in free agency to supplement the draft I’d think your idea might be plausible. But the Steelers barely touch free agency. They depend almost soley on the draft and they have too many holes to fill to be giving away draft picks for a RB which is not a position of need. The RB the Steelers do have are sufficient to get the job done. This will never happen.

  • Cols714

    No. The Steelers are not trading up to take a RB. After the draft when the Steelers do not take Fleener or trade up for a RB, or trade Mike Wallace, how are we supposed to take you seriously?

  • SteelersDepot

    PLEASE stop reading this site, I beg you!

  • Nolrog

    Trent Richardson is projected to go in the top 5. In order to trade up from 24 to 5 we’ll need to give up #24, next year’s #1 and probably 2 #2s as well. It’s a hefty price, considering the gaping holes at nose and OL. Plus, if we plug the OL holes than any back looks like an All-Pro.

    I love DeCastro, but he’s projected to go in the low to mid teens. That would be giving up a 1 and a 2 if not 2 #1s. Far to hefty a price, especially considering the OL depth in this draft.

    Steelers will stay where they are and draft Hightower or Poe if either is available.

  • kevin

    I think your post is correct about the two players who are worth trading up for, I just don’t think the Steelers will have the ammo for either. That being said, if the Steelers are to trade up and the choice is to get those two players, I would rather have Richardson. I think Richardson can be a really special player, even though Decastro will also probably be very good.

    It is not illogical, but I would have to say it is far-fetched. There is just not enough there for the Steelers to trade and combine it with a free fall by Richardson. I can see the Browns, Bucs, Rams, Dolphins, Chiefs, Jets, Bengals and Lions all willing to take Richardson or move up if he falls.

  • Jprankster2005

    Me personally I only think they need one OL and there main concern should be on NT and CB and Safety…. I don’t think they need OL as much as people think….. They got a few good guys but we need backups……. I think Scott gotta go with his 2.2 salary…… So they pick up a OL in rounds 1-3 and and NT 1-3 perferabbly first or second round….. I think Foote and Sylvester will do a great job at ILB but backups are good so pick a ILB later in draft and I also think they can get a good RB late in draft or possibly undrafted….. I would like to see them take a good WR and Fleener or Egnew at TE……. So NT 1st priorioty…. TE 2nd…… CB safety 3rd…… Lb 4th…. OL 5th…. Wr and RB 6th…… Just my opinion

  • Jprankster2005

    I say we trade down to the pats at 27 who will be possibly wanting to draft a WR Hill and afraid the broncos at 25 will snag him up….. They can give us the 27th pick and a 2nd or 3rd rounder…….

  • steelfootBalls

    Cian, in your article you break down the use of the backs on the Steelers roster. Well, I need to remind you that before WP showed that he was FWP, he was used very sparingly and look at how he turned out when given the opportunity. We all saw flashes of what he was capable of so there was real excitement with Parker. The same excitement is happening with Redman. When Redman was the starter in the playoff game he exploded (behind the same line that Mendenhall used) for 127yds, so the potential is there. Dwyer was hurt most of the year with a hamstring pull, but when he did play he also was very explosive. As far as batch is concerned, you are not being fair to him, but I will remind you that during the preseason, before his injury, he was doing a great job with blocking. So, we really do not need to trade for a back that by most draft experts, is not a wise move to draft backs so high or even trade up for them. Running backs today are what safties used to be in the late 80’s early 90’s, easy to find a servicable back, even as undrafted……Arian Foster!

  • steelfootBalls

    I still would not forget that a nose guard is needed. I am a huge fan Alameda Ta’amu. He seems to be a young polynesian version of Big Snacks. Now if any trading up should happen, it should be for him in the 2nd rd. If not I say wait til 3rd rd for Josh Chapman or Fangupo. Akiem Hicks is also very intriguing.

  • Who’s “we”? Are there 714 of you typing??? Impressive.

  • Cols714

    Why? I like the site a lot.
    I just think the author is wrong about
    1. Colon moving to guard.
    2. Drafting Coby Fleener
    3. Trading up to draft Trent Richardson
    4. Trading Mike Wallace

    If any of these things happen, I’ll happily say I was wrong. Except for trading Mike Wallace, if that happens, I’ll unhappily say I was wrong.

  • SteelersDepot

    Try to word your responses better instead of trying to take shots at people all the time then. It gets kind of old. Like it or not, others have opinions different than yours. It is OK to disagree, but don’t take swipes at each other in doing so. Speak your difference of opinion and move along. I hate baby sitting the comments section. PLEASE!!!!

  • r4kolb

    A running back really??? Dude put away your pipe. Seriously did you do this just to fire people up? Nobody knows what thy are going to do not even them until they see who goes off the board or who falls to them and where they have him rated. They will take the best player available in round one and if falls that far down then maybe but no way they trade up to get him.

  • Kingmagyar

    If we pulled a Mike Ditka and gave up every one of our draft picks, that should just be enough to move up to the 4th spot in the draft to select Trent Richardson. If you have even watched one TV show in the past 3 months you know where Richardson will be drafted. It is a complete waste of internet space to even entertain the absurd proposal we would trade up for him.

  • Dfudski1

    OL and DB’s are the need at this point for the steelers. Only because of the strength of the DL and LB’s did the secondary do as well as they did in years past. Look for a lockdown caliber DB so when the front seven on D don’t get to the quarterback, the steelers still have the receivers covered. Also, where have the steelers ranked the past couple years in having their quarterback sacked? The offensive line is just that, offensive! Stanford has a highly rated left tackle available in the draft. What’s the chance he’s available at #24. Or is he worth trading up if the asking price isn’t too high? Any running back looks all world behind a line that can block. Forget Richardson and draft for need, not want…

  • ewvu

    I could see them trading up for DeCastro or Mark Barron if either fell close enough. There’s no way Richardson falls anywhere in range of a trade.