If Emmanuel Sanders leaves for greener pastures this weekend, Pittsburgh’s total number of 2013 draft choices will increase from eight to nine. Although many franchises around the League would consider nine draft choices to be a more than adequate amount, it might benefit the rebuilding Steelers to utilize the “quantity factor” to an even larger extent during “Draft Weekend.”
Due to the fact that the current draft class is not what most consider to be “top heavy,” I believe that Pittsburgh’s front office would be wise to trade back in Round 1 to secure an extra selection or two to address more positional holes and depth issues on their roster. If the Steelers’ brass do in fact feel the need to trade down from #17 overall in the 1st Round, I believe that Colbert & Co. might be able to swing a deal with one of the following five franchises:
(Note: I based potential trades and values for each on CBS.Sportsline’s Draft Value Chart)
5. Chicago Bears
If the Steelers traded with Chicago in Round 1, it would remind me of back in 2001 when Pittsburgh traded back three spots (#16 to #19) with the New York Jets. The Jets wanted Santana Moss, and they gave Pittsburgh a 4th Round pick and a 6th Round pick in exchange for the move. I guess that Colbert & Co. brass knew that they could acquire Casey Hampton later in Round 1, so they made the smart move to pick up some extra picks in the process.
Why would the Bears make a viable trading partner for the Steelers? Well, in no particular order, the Bears currently have issues at slot receiver, offensive guard, center, offensive tackle and tight end. Because the Cowboys at #18 and the New York Giants at #19 have similar issues in the offensive line and tight end departments, the Bears would be wise to move up to #17 overall to select a player like Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, or Tyler Eifert if one or more of those guys are still on the board.
Unfortunately for a team like Pittsburgh, Chicago is not exactly in a position to trade up at the moment. In fact, a move from #20 to #17 overall would likely cost the Bears 4th and 5th Round draft choices. Even a small trade like that would hurt Chicago as they only have 5 total draft picks at the moment (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th). Then again, the Bears could really be desperate for help at offensive guard if Warmack or Cooper fall into the mid-late teens, so it should be an interesting turn of events if both guards make it to #17 overall.
4. Denver Broncos
With Peyton Manning at the helm, players like Champ Bailey set to retire soon, and tough Free Agent decisions on the horizon (Eric Decker vs. Demaryius Thomas), the Broncos are in a “win now” mode. Due to the fact that the “clock could be ticking” on the Broncos, it would not shock me if they wanted to make a splash if a player who their front office particularly likes falls into the middle of the 1st Round.
As it stands, the Broncos could stand to use help at defensive tackle, defensive end, running back, and in their secondary. As far as the defensive tackle position is concerned, the Broncos might be able to stick and stay at #28 overall due to the depth at the position in the 2013 draft class. Nevertheless, Denver’s brass could be intrigued to trade up if defensive linemen like Sheldon Richardson, Sylvester Williams, or Bjoern Werner are available at #17 overall. In addition, the Broncos could make a move up the draft board for Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes if they want to secure a top cornerback prospect to hedge their bets in case Champ Bailey’s play continues to decline.
Like Chicago, Denver might refrain from moving too high up the draft board for a trade though. The Broncos only have 6 total draft selections and could be more willing to hold onto them instead of using them as trading pieces. Then again, Denver was a Joe Flacco “heave ‘n pray” from competing in the A.F.C. Title Game this past January. Thus, if Elway & Co. see an impact player at #17 overall, they could be willing to give up their 2nd Round pick and swap their 1st Round pick with Pittsburgh, then pick up a 5th Round selection in exchange for the move from the Steelers.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta G.M. Thomas Dmitroff is no stranger to climbing up the draft board if he sees a player that him and his front office like. Back in 2011, Dmitroff was behind Atlanta’s move from #27 to #6 to take Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones in what was arguably the most surprsing move of that year’s draft.
With Dallas and New York in need of help at defensive tackle, and teams like Denver, Indianapolis, and even Minnesota looking for cornerbacks, the Falcons could leap-frog ahead of them to take a player that they really want like a Sylvester Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Bjoern Werner, or a Desmond Trufant. Atlanta also has a need for a tight end to take Tony Gonzalez’s place. Thus, if they are sold on Tyler Eifert, they could leap-frog teams like New York and Chicago for his services. Heck, now that Tyson Clabo is out of town, the Falcons could make a play for an offensive tackle like D.J. Fluker or Menelik Watson at #17 too.
The Falcons could be a prime candidate to trade up because of the fact that they have so few needs, and are probably only one player or two away from winning a Super Bowl. Moving up from #31 to #17 would not be a cheap endeavor, and would likely require a swapping of 1st Round picks with Pittsburgh, and then giving the Steelers picks in the 2nd, 5th, and 7th Rounds. Atlanta however has a decent number of picks (11), and I would not put it past Dmitroff to make a bold move in Round 1.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Due to the fact that the 49ers are an ascending team with a large amount of young talent, there is almost zero chance that G.M. Trent Baalke uses all 13 of his team’s draft picks at his disposal. San Francisco does not have enough roster space to carry 14 draft picks, let alone 10. Thus, we should all look for the 49ers to make a big move or two on “Draft Weekend.”
Although San Francisco does not necessarily have “pressing needs” at the moment, they could stand to upgrade their depth and find some talented yet raw players at the outside linebacker, tight end, cornerback, and safety positions.
The 49ers would also be wise to replace Delanie Walker and find a talented tight end to pair with Vernon Davis. Thus, if Tyler Eifert is “their guy,” and they are afraid that the Giants or Bears could take him, they could trade up to #17 overall to take the former Notre Dame star to fill the aforementioned void.
Like most of the other teams on this list, San Francisco could stand to use some help in their secondary too. Although the team signed Craig Dahl and Nnamdi Asomugha, the 49ers need some youth at safety and cornerback. If the Steelers are not interested in Kenny Vaccaro, the former Longhorn would make sense as a fit for San Francisco’s complex defense, especially because of his ability to play in “big nickel” packages. If the 49ers want to upgrade the cornerback position, they could take Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant if they fall to #17 overall as well.
If some pass-rushers like Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones slip to #17, and the Steelers are not interested in them of course, San Francisco could make a play for them so a team like Indianapolis or Baltimore does not beat them to the punch. Adding Mingo or Jones to a pass-rush already consisting of Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and Parys Haralson would make the 49ers defense even more lethal. Plus, the 49ers might also want to add a versatile 5-technique to their roster like Datone Jones to develop behind Justin Smith, and use as a sub-package pass-rusher as well.
Even though the 49ers might make a solid trade partner for the Steelers to turn to at #17 overall, San Francisco could have their sights set further up the draft board for a trade. As I stated before, the 49ers have few needs and 13 draft picks total, and might be willing to give the Steelers picks in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Rounds to make a trade from #31 to #17 happen. Then again, San Francisco has plenty of “ammunition” to make a move as high as high as the top 10 overall if they see a player they like, and Baalke would probably want to parlay his bevy of picks into a 1st Round pick higher than #17 if he wanted to exercise a trade.
1. Minnesota Vikings
Sitting with the 23rd and 25th overall picks, and in need of depth and play-makers at defensive tackle, wide receiver, and cornerback, the Vikings definitely have enough ammunition to move up the draft board in Round 1. To keep pace with Green Bay in their division, Minnesota must upgrade the talent at those positions.
To keep the pressure and the hits off of Adrian Peterson, the Vikings must find a way to upgrade their passing-game. Minnesota lost Percy Harvin and must find a way to scare teams through the air if they want to help the noodle-armed Christian Ponder. If they are scared that a player like DeAndre Hopkins or Keenan Allen will not fall to them at #23, then they could decide to make a trade if the Steelers are not interested in either pass-catcher.
Kevin Williams is also getting older, and his replacement must be found at defensive tackle. Like Atlanta and Denver, the Vikings could be targeting both Sylvester Williams and Sheldon Richardson if they fall to #17. And like the Falcons and Broncos, Minnesota might want to trade up for Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant to shore up their secondary if one or both are available at #17 overall to boot.
Overall Minnesota has a total of 10 draft picks at their disposal. Like San Francisco, the Vikings have the draft-pick flexibility to climb up and snatch a player if they need to make a move. In fact, a move from #23 or #25 to #17 overall would likely only cost Minnesota one pick in the 3rd Round and one more in the 4th Round. Thus, a trade with Pittsburgh would not be a particularly pricey one for the Vikings to make to acquire a “must have/impact” player for their franchise.
Kevin Colbert has been no stranger to making moves up and down the draft board in the 1st Round over his career, and Pittsburgh’s G.M. has executed trades three times during his tenure at the helm with the Steelers (’01, ’03, ’06).
Count me in as somebody who hopes that Pittsburgh is able to trade down in Round 1 in this year’s draft, because a rebuilding franchise like Pittsburgh can stand to get as young and talented as possible over the next few arduous years.
After some years of sub-par drafting, the more selections Pittsburgh has to work with, the better their odds should be of making the correct choices. Most importantly though, a bevy of extra draft selections can help with depth in the short-term, and potential starters in the long-term.
Regardless of what Pittsburgh elects to do in Round 1, I for one cannot wait to see what unfolds on that first evening and during “Draft Weekend” as a whole.
Readers: Should the Steelers try to trade back in Round 1? Why? Why not?
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