With the 17th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Steelers select Trade Down, multiple positions from Unnamed University

Al Bello

In the end, if the Steelers make a pick in the first round, it will be because they couldn't trade down.

As Col. Nathan R. Jessup said in A Few Good Men, "I don't have the first damn clue."

Maybe Jarvis Jones is an early riser. Maybe Tyler Eifert doesn't have any friends. When it comes to the 2013 NFL Draft, I'm a (semi) educated man, but I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about the absolute certainty of who the Steelers will take with the 17th pick in tonight's first round draft.

What I do know is no one else can, either.

Anyone who feels certain about a prediction of who they will take is lying, or is just throwing a dart at a board, and seeing what sticks.

I can do that as well. More than anything, I can say whomever I pick, odds are very good the draft will play out before the Steelers make their decision. Odds are also very good the Steelers want to trade this pick. Whether that means moving down in the first round, or moving out all together, if they find a partner who actually wants the 17th pick and is willing to give up multiple picks in this draft to do it, they will make a deal.

The Steelers have drafted in the first round every year since 1968, when they took USC's Mike Taylor with the 10th overall pick. That may not have worked out so well, but in 1969, when they had the fourth overall pick and used it to take arguably the best player in franchise history (Mean Joe Greene), they saw some value in keeping picks in the first round.

What I do know is the Steelers found incredible value with Troy Polamalu at 16 in 2003, and with Maurkice Pouncey at 18 in 2010. If the Steelers do select at 17, and they get a player who even sniffs the kind of impact those two players made, call me a monkey's uncle.

If it's Jones, the high-motor pass rusher from Georgia, it will be more because no one else wanted him at 17 and they couldn't trade the pick. If they take Eifert, it will be because it's something of a position of need and they can use later picks to address the positions they couldn't address in the first round. And no one else wanted him at 17 and they couldn't trade the pick.

Steel City Insider publisher Jim Wexell makes a good argument for LSU safety Eric Reid. While I'm sure comments will blow up talking about how it's a reach and this and that. One simple question that seems to go unanswered more often than not, who else would you take? There may be valid answers to that question, but the general lack of strength of those answers, at most, slightly outweighs a hypothetical decision to take him.

A good player will fall a bit further than what draftnicks expect. Someone will have a quarterback rated a bit higher than analysts feel he should be rated. Several teams are said to want to trade down - which isn't exactly headline news. Every team will explore trade down options every year. It's cheaper (although not substantially more with the new CBA), and as we can see throughout the NFL, every draft has mid-to-low round players who end up grossly outperforming their pre-draft rankings.

The Steelers want to rebuild this roster, and they aren't going to do it as wholly as they want with their options in the first round. Therefore, I'm picking Trade Down, a position-less player from an unnamed school.

He has high potential, is very signable and can be used in a variety of ways, both offensively and defensively. He's the ultimate depth player, who could be used as a swing tackle (something they'll need if/when Kelvin Beachum is moved to guard) and he could be a playmaking wide receiver (the amount of those existing in the second and third rounds far exceeds those in the first round, and aren't far off talent-wise). He can be used as a hybrid safety/cornerback who can excel on special teams, as well as a package-playing tight end.

He could even punt, serve as a back-up quarterback or get completely shredded in coverage by Phillip Rivers.

He really is the best choice. It's kind of ironic how little attention Trade Down gets in terms of mock drafts, but how valuable he ends up being.

The Steelers would settle for Jones, if he's available, just like they would if Kenny Vaccaro falls to 17. But I think the Steelers value Trade Down more, and, if Jones or Vaccaro or even Eifert catches the eye of another team, the Steelers will gladly take Trade Down over any of them.


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