In an unusually aggressive draft for the Steelers, BTSC writer Adam Baliatico selected NT Dontari Poe with the 24th overall pick in Mocking the Draft's live mock draft Friday, and then pulled off a trade with New England to get back into the first round, and take LB Dont'a Hightower.
The Steelers gave New England its second and third round picks in this year's draft, and a second round pick in 2013.
The trade was the last of three options Baliatico explored, and ultimately, it was a move by Baltimore (and junior grade GM MaLor) that sealed his intentions.
"I was not thinking about trading back into the first round but when I saw Higthower get past MaLoR and the Ravens at 29 I had to make a deal to get back up and get him," Baliatico said. "I actually tried to trade up to 28 and 30 but both of those failed but myself and the Patriots representative were able to make a trade that benefited both of us."
On the surface, it doesn't appear to be a terrible strategy. Poe is a physical force who will need some time to develop. The Steelers guaranteed NT Casey Hampton's contract for this season in exchange for him accepting less money. Bringing in a young, raw nose tackle to learn from one of the best of his generation could bear great results down the line. Poe, though, isn't likely to play much in his rookie season.
Baliatico was more than excited to see Poe fall to 24.
"I took him within 20 seconds," he said.
Hightower is seasoned and could potentially wrest the starting job away from veteran Larry Foote at some point in the 2012 season. The only real knock on Hightower is his speed in coverage. It remains to be seen how well he'll adjust to the pro game, but he's a downhill linebacker, and could be utilized just as effectively in rushing the passer on third downs. He has great size and is instinctive.
The price will be seen as too great by some. Giving up two picks in this year's deep draft, along with a high pick next year, is pretty tough, but the Steelers really have needs at both nose tackle and linebacker. Staying with each of their picks in Rounds 1-3 could net them, in some order, a nose tackle, a guard and a linebacker. With this trade, they've already taken care of two of those needs, and both are first-round talents. The Steelers will pick again in the 4th round, where there will still be good guards available.
Baliatico will put his Colbert hat back on at 11:45 ET for the start of Round 3. We'll have an open thread up at that time where you can give Baliatico your opinions on what the Steelers should do the rest of the draft.