I've seen a few posts and discussions on these topics, and for us Steeler fans, the months leading up to the draft are always very exciting (especially so when we have a year where we actually miss the playoffs and this is what we have to look forward to until April). With this post, I hope to share with you one of my favorite charts (the draft pick point value chart) and how we can move up or down to either get the guy we want or add value.
First off, though, let's address the compensatory picks topic...
Every year the NFL awards an additonal 32 picks (another round if you will) to teams that were essentially net losers in the previous season's free agency (2009). These picks are awarded at the ends of rounds 3-7. While the method that they use is truly a bit fuzzy, much of it has to do with the net amount of players lost and the amount of $$$ they signed elsewhere for (along with other things like playing time and post-season awards).
For the Steelers, their net loss was 3. ..
They lost CB McFadden, WR Washington, QB Leftwich, OT M.Smith S A. Smith...but gained WR McDonald and CB Ratliff. Now this doesn't necessarily mean the Steelers will get 3 compensatory picks, but the odds are in their favor they will get at least 2 if not 3. As for what round they will get, a 3rd round is highly unlikey since none of their losses were marquee FAs who signed huge contracts. A. Smith signed with GB originally for I think $1M (then was cut, latched on with STL, then finally JAC where he did get some PT), M.Smith signed with the 49ers for 2yrs./$10M I believe, but then retired before the regular season. Leftwich signed with TB for 2/$7.5M started first 3 games and that was it. Washington signed the biggest overall contract of the five at 6/$27M to be a starter for TEN and had an ok year but nothing special. Same can be said for McFadden who signed a 2/$10M to start for ARIZ. In return, they got McDonald and Ratliff each for 1 year at around $1M, both of whom were cut during the season. So, the odds are in their favor of getting decent compensatory picks.
My guess would be a 4th, a 5th, and a 7th. Although it could end up only two picks with the worst case being a 5th and a 6th.
Now on to the Draft Pick Point Values. This chart is commonly used by NFL teams to assign point values to picks when making trades "NFL Draft Pick Points":http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft06/news/story?id=2410670.
So, here are the Steelers 2010 picks (prior to any compensatory awards) and their point value:
1-18 (18 overall) 900 pts.
2-20 (52 overall) 380 pts.
3-18 (82 overall) 180 pts.
4-18 (at least 113 overall, but prob will be around 117) 60 pts. (if 117)
5-20 (will probably be around 156 overall) 30 pts. (if 156)
6-19 (will probably be around 191 overall) 16 pts. (if 191)
7-18 (will probably be around 225 overall) 3 pts. (if 225)
That means the total value of the Steelers picks this year will be in the neighborhood of 1570 pts. For perspective, if they were to pull a Ditka and trade all their picks to move up, the 1570 would fall just short of the 1600 needed to get to #6 overall (which ironically is the Brownies pick). However, they could get up to #7 overall (Raiders) with 1500. This would required our 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Of course this type of trade makes little sense at this point.
Now let's look at some trade up possibilities that might be a bit more enticing...
Eric Berry is generally regarded as the top S overall and one of the top players in the draft. He's often called the next Ed Reed and if everything remains status quo, he would likely be a top 5 pick. If he's still available when it comes time for the #4 overall (and let's assume WASH still owns the pick), the Steelers can make a move to go up and get him. To get that pick, they'd need 1800 pts. Obviously they can't do it with only this years picks, but here's a combo that could work....this years 1, 3, and 5 (worth just over 1100 pts.) AND next year's 1. The trick is valuing next year's #1. They won't get 900 for it since teams will assume the Steelers will improve (it's almost always assumed a team will improve when valuing future picks). How much so is the question, but with 590 pts. being the lowest (if we won the SB), it's likely they'd value the pick around the 690-700 (around #26 overall) that we'd need to get to 1800. Also, our 3rd rounder this year would be attractive to WASH since they don't have one due to their supplemental pick last year.
So, we could get Eric Berry for a 2011 #1 and this year's 3rd and 5th. That sounds pretty attractive to me if he is what he is supposed to be....imagine Troy and an Ed Reed clone patrolling our secondary together! Also, keep in mind if we do get a 4, 5, and 7 in compensatory, we would still have 7 picks plus Berry (a 2, two 4's, a 5, a 6, and two 7s).
Another less flashy, but maybe more Steeler-like, trade up scenario involves Earl Thomas, who is projected as the second S behind Berry this year at this point. A perfect spot may be Seattle's 14 which is just ahead of the Giants who may be looking to take Thomas. Considering that SEA already has their own #6 overall, they may be looking to trade down the 14. We'd need 1100 pts. to do that...which our 1, 3, and 5 this year would certainly do (as mentioned above). So, without having to give up next year's #1, we could have Thomas and the 7 picks mentioned above. Again, this sounds good to me! The question would be, how much better do the Steelers think Berry is/would be than Thomas?
Of course FA and how things go with the likes of Hampton, Colon, and Clark could largely determine how we play come draft time. However, I think both Berry and Thomas would be clear upgrades over Clark. To that end, it's not worth paying Clark starter $$$ and NOT upgrading the position. If they can get him for backup $$$, fine. (he can be the backup S they need)..but they still need an upgrade. Now drafting an OT makes sense if they were to lose Colon (even if they keep him they still need an OT somewhere later on), and guys like Brian Bulaga or Trent Williams may be there at 18... those could be fall back options if they stand pat and Thomas is gone. As for NT, it obviously depends on whether or not they sign Big Snack (which I think they should do if they intend to stick with the 3-4). If they let Snack walk, then they need a NT if they stay with the 3-4, but if they were to make the switch to 4-3 then they really don't need to look at DL with the top pick. To me going after the S is the best bet because it fits regardless and a guy like Berry can be a true difference maker and a clear upgrade over our current situation, whereas the available NTs don't appear to be an upgrade over Snack.