The Pittsburgh Steelers got a nice surprise for themselves yesterday when the league announced this year’s compensatory picks a bit early, and, as it turns out, they were awarded an additional third-round draft pick, which is the first time since the 2014 NFL Draft that they have had such a high pick.
That might not be so long ago, but the fact of the matter is that this one was far more surprising. The Steelers were awarded the highest compensatory pick in the 2014 NFL Draft when they suffered the loss of wide receiver Mike Wallace in free agency, who signed a big-money deal with the Dolphins in 2013.
Some evidence of how unexpected this was in comparison to the last time? The Steelers chose to deal their natural third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in order to acquire a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to select safety Shamarko Thomas, with their cited reason being their confidence that they would get that third-round pick back via the compensatory pick process.
Now, I’m not exactly saying that the team’s decision to refrain from wheeling and dealing in last year’s draft was indicative of the fact that they had no idea that they would be getting a third-round pick back, and it is true that they were interested in trading into the fifth round a year ago for a running back.
I honestly do not recall which beat writer Tweeted it, but I saw one of them write yesterday on social media that the Steelers were actually anticipating a sixth-round pick. I think that just goes to show how poorly-understood this compensatory pick formula is understood even within league circles.
The biggest piece of the puzzle was obviously Kelvin Beachum’s contract, which was structured as a one-year deal with a club option to turn it into a multi-year big-money deal. Though his option was declined, the formula evidently factored in the total value of the contract in order to help spit out a third-round pick for the Steelers.
We should keep in mind that the last time the Steelers had an extra third-round pick, they traded one of them away for a safety that proved to be less than what they were expecting, and they used the compensatory third in order to draft Dri Archer, a ‘slash’ player who wasn’t very good at either position between his designations as a running back or a wide receiver. He was released in the middle of his second season.
It would certainly be wise for the Steelers to be a bit more practical in their decision-making this time around after having been awarded an additional selection within the top 110 picks in the draft. They have an opportunity to add potentially another player of great significance in 2017, which is something that they failed to do in both 2013 and 2014 the last time they were awarded such a compensatory pick.