On Wednesday I discussed the possible directions that Pittsburgh could be compelled to go in during the 1st Round of next week’s N.F.L. Draft. I figured that a short analysis regarding Pittsburgh’s options come this Thursday night was a good way to get the ball rolling as we enter Draft Week. But even as I was typing and outlining the post, the thought of Pittsburgh not only trading down in Round 1 (or out of Round 1) really began to intrigue me. Furthermore, the more I continue to think about the situation at hand and where Pittsburgh is drafting in Round 1, the more trading down in a few specific scenarios could be extremely beneficial to the Steelers. So today I would like tack on to my Wednesday post and discuss the ins and outs of why trading down from #24 a viable option for Pittsburgh, which teams would provide the most logical trading partners, and finally I want to give you the readers a Steelers specific Mock Draft for each different scenario where Pittsburgh trades out of Round 1.
Why Could Pittsburgh Trade Down?
Now that Offensive Tackle Mike Adams’ positive marijuana test at The Combine has become public, and Mark Barron in my opinion is likely going in the neighborhood of Picks #14-#17 where Safety-needy Dallas, Philadelphia, New York (Jets), and Cincinnati pick, it seems that there is one player which should be in the neighborhood for Pittsburgh to take at #24: Dont’a Hightower. And unless for some awesome reason Offensive Linemen Jonathan Martin or Cordy Glenn end up falling to Pittsburgh, Hightower on paper appears to be a safe and solid selection that Pittsburgh should go with in the 1st Round.
Yet as much as I like Hightower the prospect, I do have one question: What if he is not the player Pittsburgh targets in Round 1 and is selected by somebody else? Or, what if he is not the Inside Linebacker they want at all? Pittsburgh did bring in Mychal Kendricks of California for a visit, and while Kendricks is a bit smaller, he is a more versatile player in terms of the time he spent at Outside Linebacker in college, and Kendricks played in a 3-4 system at California as well. Granted, the Steelers might want to cover their bases by bringing in Kendricks in for a visit, but he is a prospect which could really help this team on the defensive side of the ball.
Also, what if Hightower is not around at #24 and the Steelers do in fact want him? It is a viable question to ask, Baltimore could use a replacement for Ray Lewis down the road, and even the Giants or another team in early Round 2 with Inside Linebacker needs could consider going after Hightower and trading ahead of Pittsburgh. Every Front Office with a need at Inside Linebacker which is coveting Hightower below Pittsburgh in Round 1 or early in Round 2 knows that it could be a risk to wait and see what the Steelers do, and might be willing to jump ahead of the Steelers to acquire him. Even Brett Favre “fanboy” Peter King made reference to this happening in his most recent Mock Draft where he had Baltimore swapping picks with Detroit at #23 to acquire Hightower ahead of Pittsburgh.
If Pittsburgh has Hightower snatched from their grasp, or nobody like a Martin or a Glenn falls to them, the situation gets sort of murky when you look at the bottom of Round 1. At that point the prospects which will likely be available do not fit the B.P.A + Position of Need mold for the Steelers as well as a Hightower or a Barron would.
Don’t get me wrong, there are/will be terrific players available. Guys like Wide Receivers like Stephen Hill, who are talented but raw and probably two years from contributing significantly at the N.F.L. level. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins will be around simply due to character concerns. Plus, Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State could also be in play for a Quarterback hungry team looking to get back into Round 1 as well.
But at #24 though, there are a glut of players at two very important positions which could make the spot where Pittsburgh selects a hot-spot for trade-activity: Defensive Tackles galore in 4-3 systems like Devon Still, Jerel Worthy, Kendall Reyes, and possibly Michael Brockers, and there are tweener pass-rushers like Shea McClellin, Nick Perry, Chandler Jones, Andre Branch, and possibly Courtney Upshaw. And while Pittsburgh might not have a dire need for help at the specific positions, other franchises might, and thus see where Pittsburgh as sitting in Round 1 as a place where they want to be.
Which Trading Partners Make Sense
While the pool of players that the Steelers could choose from at #24 may not be to their ultimate liking, it could prove to be a very valuable lot to many other franchises. I personally believe that there are three teams which could be inclined to trade with Pittsburgh in the forms of St. Louis, Miami, and Philadelphia.
One reason why these teams could be possible trading partners with Pittsburgh is the fact that they have multiple picks in either Round 2 or Round 3. With extra selections, comes more chances to move around on the draft board, and having these extra chips to spend at the trading table, each of these teams has the “ammunition” to make an attractive offer to a team looking to vacate Round 1.
Granted, there are other teams which could contact Pittsburgh to move up to #24 and trade with them, because they do have holes at some of the aforementioned positions (i.e.: Buffalo, Carolina, and possibly even Seattle). Yet because the teams I listed above have multiple picks in Rounds 2 or 3, they will likely be easier partners to trade with if they desire to move up, and can give the Steelers picks in the present as opposed to the future.
In addition to the extra picks which these teams have at their disposal, Philadelphia, Miami, and St. Louis all also have needs at either Inside Linebacker, 4-3 Defensive Tackle, tweener Pass-Rusher, or could even be in the market for Stephen Hill. St. Louis could sure use some help on the interior of their Defensive Line and it would be wise for them to attempt to acquire the player they want before the run on them begins, Miami needs all positions save for Inside Linebacker, and Philadelphia is in the market for an Inside Backer and could make a play for Stephen Hill.
Need could be important for these teams, and moving up to a certain spot where a team is looking to move down could make all of the difference. So now that I have established some potential trading partners which the Steelers could work with on Thursday evening and then Friday afternoon, what better way to end the article than by prognosticating trades and filling the new slots in the later Rounds in a few quick Mock Drafts.