Steelers deal within division, give up 2014 third round pick to Cleveland for Shamarko Thomas

USA TODAY Sports

Will Shamarko Thomas be worth the 2014 third rounder given up to select him? Or did the Steelers make a mistake moving up in the fourth round for the second year in a row?

For the second year in a row, the Steelers picked their man in the 4th round and went out and got him. Hopefully there are two major differences between these two 4th round picks, and only one of them has anything to do with the trade.

Pittsburgh gave up a 2014 3rd round pick to divisional-rival Cleveland for the rights to select Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse.

It's the first time since 1974 the Steelers have traded a future pick, and coach Chuck Noll vowed it would never happen again.

Trading a future pick is an atypical move for Pittsburgh, but for a team expected to receive a third round compensation pick for Mike Wallace, and potentially a fourth round pick for Keenan Lewis, the move seems to be calculated to take advantage of a need this year.

Pittsburgh currently lacks anything I am confident can start with the inevitable injury that should befall one of the team's starting safeties. Robert Golden could be serviceable, but Thomas immediately becomes the best backup on the roster.

Thomas has been compared to Bob Sanders, and that is based on more than just his small stature (5'8" and change). Thomas can hit like a linebacker, and plays surprisingly big in pass coverage. I expect him to be the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu, and Tomlin told NFL Network he expects Thomas to be "a core special teams player immediately."

With regards to what the Steelers had to give up, it hurts to lose a third in what should be a pretty deep 2014 draft, but as I noted above, Pittsburgh expects a compensatory pick in the third round after losing Mike Wallace to Miami this offseason.

Thomas is a second to third round prospect who would be ranked higher if he were taller, and presents great value in the middle of the fourth round. Pittsburgh likely had to move ahead of Dallas to secure Thomas, and gave up nothing from this draft, which, as it has been noted, is important given Pittsburgh's many needs heading into the season.

On a tangent, this is yet more evidence that the Steelers should have let Sanders walk when he signed a tender with the Patriots. By grabbing Markus Wheaton, who I believe will make a far better pro than Sanders, and having to move up to grab Thomas, a player that would have presented great value still at the end of the third, the Steelers gave up a third round pick in 2014 for the rights to keep Manny Sanders for one year.

I am loving this draft (though I still need convincing that Le'Veon Bell is going to be more Eddie George than Ron Dayne, not to open that wound again), and believe the Steelers have drafted an immediate impact player at OLB, a future starter at WR, an immediate starter at RB, a future starting SS, and a solid backup QB.

What are your thoughts on the trade? Too much to give up, or worth it for a player like Thomas?

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