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2011 NFL Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers Pick Predictions -- Why Not Trade Up To Acquire JJ Watt?

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We're just over two weeks away from the start of the 2011 NFL Draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the NFL are still meeting with NFL hopefuls in an attempt to perhaps glean any last information before settling in on what their final strategy will be. But time is running out for too much to change in terms of team's draft boards and how players can help or hurt their draft status. So, once this week and once next week, we'll take a crack at predicting who the Steelers will take with their first round pick.

Here's a list of names I've seen linked to the Steelers in some shape or fashion this draft season:

  • Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
  • Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
  • Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
  • Muhammad Wilkerson, NT, Temple
  • Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
  • Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
  • Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  • Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
  • Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
  • Cameron Hayward, DE, Ohio State
  • Benjamin Ijalana, OG, Villanova
  • Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
  • Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
  • Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami
  • Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

One name I haven't heard associated with the Steelers is Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt. The reason is quite simple -- Watt has been moving up draft boards, and by now, is widely assumed to be long gone by the time the Steelers select at No. 31.

However, the Steelers have a history of trading up in the first round when there's a guy out there that they covet. They did so with Troy Polamalu, Kendrick Bell, and Santonio Holmes most notably. I think if Watt falls past, say, 13 or 14, then the Steelers should strongly consider packaging some sort of picks to move up and get the best 3-4 DE in this year's draft.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't think the Steelers need quantity in this draft -- just quality. I've got a post about this subject in the works, but if the Steelers can get two or three bigtime starters out of this year's draft, then it would be a wildly successful year. But as I'll elaborate on this week, the Steelers have already stockpiled depth and competition at multiple positions in the '10 and '09 drafts. What we've lacked is a couple of acquisitions that are slam dunks to be major contributors for years to come. This is the year to get that type of talent.

So, that's my dark horse pick for who the Steelers will grab in the first round of this year's draft. I know it's somewhat unlikely, but hey, what fun would it be if I just spat out another name you've already seen associated with the Steelers this past month? Not much.

Whoever gets Watt will be happy for years to come, and I for one just hope that Kevin Colbert and the Steelers front office considers giving up a bit to move up to get him next Thursday.

What would it take you might be asking? Well, if the Steelers moved up to No. 15 to grab him, perhaps they can give up a third and a fifth in this year's draft, plus a future third round pick in 2012. Remember, we might be losing more than one unrestricted free agent once a new CBA is reached. Guys like Ike Taylor and Willie Colon would yield future draft picks were they to sign elsewhere.

To the polls, what do you think the Steelers will do with their first round pick next Thursday?

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