Will The Steelers Say Goodbye To The First Round?

By Jeremy Hritz

The more that I think about the upcoming NFL Draft and the Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick at number 24, the more indecisive I become about their aim. While the Steelers have many glaring needs on the offensive line, at pick 24, the prospects that would be available are not without their warts (Cordy Glenn’s weight issues, Jonathan Martin’s average strength and struggles with power rushers). In a draft that is deep in offensive lineman in the second and third rounds, I am not sold that the Steelers will reach for a guard or tackle unless they are completely convinced about their value and ability to step in a play immediately.

The other puzzle piece is Dont’a Hightower. It is no secret that the inside linebacker position opposite Lawrence Timmons is a question mark, and whether or not the Steelers feel comfortable about starting Larry Foote or moving forward with Stevenson Sylvester has yet to emerge. However, if the Steelers are set on drafting Hightower, and if he is taken off the board earlier in the first round, what will be their move? It would not be out of the question for the Steelers to explore the value of trading their first round pick away for additional later round picks. Acquiring additional picks in the second or third and the later rounds would allow the Steelers to select multiple offensive line prospects such as Brandon Brooks and possibly tackle Bobby Massie, who could still contribute to the team early. It will also enable the Steelers to select players that will need to be groomed to eventually step into starting roles that will be vacated over the next couple of years (nose tackle, safety).

The nature of the NFL Draft is capricious, and the players that are being forecasted now to be taken prior to the 24th pick by the national media will be dramatically different come April 26th. Take for instance Dontari Poe, whose Combine workout propelled him from a projected late first round pick to a projected top ten pick. However, as more and more film study is has been conducted on Poe and his lack of production at Memphis against lesser competition surfaces, his value appears to be dipping. What also cannot be ignored is the history surrounding highly drafted players who were workout warriors at the Combine that were debilitating busts (see Matt Jones, a 6’6, 237 pound quarterback converted to wide receiver selected by the Jaguars in 2005 based on his Combine workout where he posted a 4.37 forty yard dash). Conversely, there are also players who are currently being undervalued whose names will find their way into the first round, and those foretasted to go later in the first round will climb higher, which is what I see happening with Hightower.

The Draft cannot get here fast enough, as Steelers’ fans are eager to welcome new prospects that will hopefully develop into major contributors, and ideally, into Pro Bowl players. One thing is certain, the Steelers will not reach with their first round pick, and if the player they want is not available at 24, trading out of the first round for more picks is a possibility. And with later round prospects like Brooks, Isaiah Pead, and Mike Martin who have been linked to the Steelers, trading out seems like a solid idea.

  • SteelersDepot

    While I do not think a trade completely out of the first round is likely, I could see a trade down 4 or 5 spots. The cost for a team like the Colts to move back into round one would likely be too extreme and it gets more extreme after that. The Giants, 49ers, Texans and Packers would be the most likeliest trade partners to try to move up a few spots. Will they be willing to part with 2nd round picks and say a 3rd or 4th to do so? Is there a player that will be on the board that they value enough at #24 to do so?

  • Trading down is easier said than done. For that to happen, there would need to be a player that another team covets enough, to attempt to move up and get him. Outside of a QB, I don’t see any players that fit that bill, at least none that the Steelers wouldn’t also have interest in drafting.

    The Steelers will continue with their history of allowing the draft to come to them, and take the BPA. They have plenty of positions that need to be addressed, that the team should have no problem finding value with their first pick, even if that player doesn’t fit one of their perceived glaring needs.

    I wouldn’t rule out the Steelers taking a WR or OLB with the first pick, if a top 20 player at one of these positions, happens to fall to 24.

  • I love the idea of trading down, and if we could get an additional 2nd and 4th it would prb. be the smart move. However, it takes two to tango and for it to happen there has to be a player worth trading up to get and a team willing to do it. I would be surprised if they are actually able to pull it off on draft day.

  • And if a team is willing to give up that much to move up for a specific player, then we would probably be just as interested, and draft him rather than trading down.

  • SteelersDepot

    Steelers could care less how another team has a player valued. Just because one team values a player at the #24 spot does not necessarily mean the Steelers have the same value attached.

  • DK

    I would not mind them trading out of the first round to pick up extra picks (if hightower is gone), but like other’s have said it will be hard to do.. there has to a player another teams wants bad enough…it can definitely happen new england as done it so many times in the past…however I see them trading up to pick hightower (if they are as high on him as all the mock draft suggest) just like they did with troy and holmes…regardless whatever they decide to do I hope who the players they do pick up via draft can contribute in a positive way (especially since we are getting older on as the day’s go by)

  • Meanz2nend

    i hope we get DL Mike Martin everything i’ve read on that kid is good character high motor in other words classic STEELER

  • I realize that. If a team is willing to trade away a bunch of picks for a player at #24, then they value that player a lot higher than the 24th pick. Unless it’s a QB, I don’t think the Steelers draft board will be so significantly different in the first round, that they wouldn’t also have a high grade on the player.

  • Clintmartin

    I don’t get Isaiah Pead he isn’t a feature back he is a change of pace back. The same as Baron Batch. I do feel they will take Hightower with 1st pick if he is available, what if kuechely is there?
    Mike Martin? He is a DT for a 4-3 defense not a 3-4
    Maybe we could get Nicolas Jean-Baptiste from Baylor the 4th overall DT for a 3-4 defense in the 4th round.
    Bobby Massie would be a great RT prospect 39th overall player the only way to get him is the above scenario. He will be gone in early 2nd round.

  • Derick

    he looks ripped for a NT prospect ya know. I also like Martin in the 3rd.

  • Jprankster2005

    We need OL but as u mention it’s deep in that this yr. I would like to get a TE like one of the patriots have….. That being said I don’t think they will trade out and will select BPA……

  • LouPGH

    I’ll be surprised if they trade down, but if they’re not sold on the players likely to be available at 24, it would make sense to make it known that they are open to such a trade, and then just sit back and see how things shake out on Draft Day.

    Personally, I’d prefer one kid who can step in to a position of need in Week One than a bunch of middle round development-types, but like Dave said, it’s unlikely that they’d trade down more than a few spots, so that is something of a false choice.

  • Derick

    How often has the Colbert era FO traded back? My money is on Hightower @ 24. Just found out Woodley is already #6 in sacks on the all time Steelers sacks list. Anyone else worried Worilds will not work out…

  • Stewart John21

    We know that the Steelers have their own draft board and tend to make selections independent of what others do or think. The chances of there being no one at #24 that the Steelers have a Rnd 1 grade on is unlikely. Remember for the Steelers, it’s about ability, fit, athleticism & character-probably in equal order. If no one is at #24 that meets our requirements for a #1 and we find a willing partner, we will do it if the deal is right.
    What is the right deal? 2 – mid-low 2nd rounders or a 2nd & a 3rd? [#24 = 740 pts.)

  • Robhenderson

    I can see a trade with Indy if Colbey Fleener is still on the board or earlier second rounders

  • Bleebo77

    I wonder if one “sleeper” trade partner might be the Patriots. They have 2 first round picks (27, 31), both after the Steelers. At first I ruled them out completely – why would they move up when they already have 2 picks? But then I thought that they’d actually be the perfect candidate. First, they love to wheel and deal. Second, drafting where they are, there’s a potential drop off in talent just before they pick, so they’ll have to move up if they have a top 25 player targeted. Third, that additional first round pick could be exactly why they feel like they can move up! If they move up from 27 to 24, that’s 60 points on the value chart, which is a late 4th round pick. (Moving up from 31 to 24 is 140 points, which is a late 3rd round pick). They also have 2 second round picks. With such a wealth of picks, it seems like they aren’t sacrificing much to move up a few spots – they give up a 4th or 3rd round pick, but they’ll still have 4 picks in the top 62. In a sense, they have less to lose by jumping ahead and grabbing a player b/c they are still loaded with picks in the top rounds. The question is whether or not there’s a player of value to them that drops to 24.

    And this same dynamic might be in play in round 2. Maybe NE is willing to move around a bit – forward or back – and maybe they’d have more willingness since they have multiple picks. Would the Steelers move from pick 56 up to NE’s pick at 48 to grab a player (a move worth 80 points, or a high 4th round pick), or would they trade back from 56 to NE’s pick at 62 (a move worth 56 points, or a late 4th round pick)?

  • Harold

    One of the things I’ve never understood about the Steelers is, for as good as Colbert is in the first round… Why don’t we try to acquire more future first round picks? Trade this year’s first for another team’s 2nd or 3rd pick this year plus next year’s first? Or this year’s 2nd straight up for some other team’s 1st next year?

    We rarely pick in the top ten. Why not trade with a mediocre team in hopes that they have a bad year? Do your realize what we could do with an extra top ten pick?

    Of course it depends what types of offers are on the table. It always does. But if they get an offer anywhere near reasonable, I say bite the bullet (in a weak 1st round like this year) and get into that heavy value 2-3 round range and invest in the future

  • Tkay07

    Saints traded their 2nd round pick, #56 overall, and their 2012 1st round pick to the Patriots last year for the Patriots’ 1st rd, #28 overall pick last year.

    A 1.24 could be worth even more. I would go for that.

  • Grw1960

    I personally would love to see the Steelers trade down. For I am higher on many of the late 1st and many 2nd round rated players. than I am those players rated as mid 1st round values.
    But with the steelers sitting at 24 and though not logical to me. It would not surprise me to see the Steelers trade up to the 16 to 20 area.

  • poppy

    With the uncertainty of wallace being here next year think WR is a good idea at some point in yhe draft.