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With the 24th Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Steelers... Trade Down

It's simply about numbers: having more picks gives you more opportunities to draft talented players.

As The Gambler says, "you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em". Know when to walk away, and know when not to draft Troy Edwards (run).

The largely underscored message the Steelers should be considering with the 24th overall pick is the (eye-popping) stat that in 10 consecutive drafts, teams have traded up or back into the first round to select a quarterback 14 times.

And of those 14 times, five of them have come within three picks of No. 24. History is on the side of Trade-Down Enthusiasts.

2011 - Jacksonville traded up with Washington for the 10th pick and took QB Blaine Gabbert.
2010 - Denver traded up with Baltimore for the 25th pick to select QB Tim Tebow.
2009 - The Browns traded the 5th overall pick to the Jets, who selected QB Mark Sanchez.
2009 - The Browns then traded the 17th pick they got from the Jets to Tampa Bay, who drafted Josh Freeman.
2008 - Baltimore traded up with Houston for the 18th overall pick, and selected QB Joe Flacco.
2007 - Cleveland traded up with Dallas for the 27th pick, and took QB Brady Quinn
2006 - Denver traded up with St. Louis for the 10th pick, and selected QB Jay Cutler
2005 - Washington traded up with Denver for the 25th pick, and took QB Jason Campbell
2004 - The Giants traded up with San Diego for the 1st pick, and took QB Eli Manning
2004 - Buffalo traded up with Dallas for the 22nd pick, and selected QB J.P. Losman
2003 - Baltimore traded up with New England for the 19th pick and took QB Kyle Boller
2003 - Chicago traded up with the Jets for the 22nd pick, and selected QB Rex Grossman
2002 - Washington traded up with New England for the 32nd pick, and selected QB Patrick Ramsey
2001 - Atlanta traded up with San Diego for the 1st pick, and selected QB Michael Vick

It seems clear that Cleveland does not have a good, working grasp of drafting/managing 1st round quarterbacks - the Browns traded out of 1st round picks that were used to take Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman because they'd previously traded up to get Brady Quinn and were still invested in him, only to turn around and ship Quinn to Denver less than a year later (in exchange for Peyton Hillis, a 6th round pick, and a pick that's yet to be determined in this coming draft). You could also say that Denver's (or maybe just Josh McDaniels') grasp of those concepts isn't much better either - the Broncos had traded up to get Jay Cutler and he showed good growth in his first three seasons, then they pissed him off by shopping him in a 3-way deal reportedly looking to replace Cutler (who'd made the Pro Bowl that year) with Matt Cassel. Cutler then forced his way out, Kyle Orton was an effective bridge to the long-term solution but not the solution himself, then McDaniels traded back into the 1st to take Tim Tebow when no one else wanted him that badly.

Aside from those two possible judgments, it seems that in recent years, there is often a prospect out there who proves tantalizing enough for someone to target and trade into the bottom half of the 1st round to select.

The Steelers are in prime real estate for such a trade, and the bait could very well be laid at the Steelers feet: Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill, Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona QB Nick Foles and Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weedon.

Tannehill is big (6-foot-4), has a decent arm, and is a good athlete (played wide receiver his first two years at A&M, earning All Big 12 Honorable Mention his sophomore year). He could be the kind of player a team would want to develop for a little bit, since there are clear drawbacks such as limited experience and a less-than-elite arm (sure-fire way to go in the bottom of the 1st round instead of the top).

Weedon is a former New York Yankees second-round pick that enrolled at OSU after four years in the minors. He's got a great arm, and his age and experience could be seen to give him an advantage in terms of mental make-up. He's an intriguing prospect who could turn into an NFL starter if he gets the right situation.

Tim Tebow was an intriguing prospect that everyone knew needed to land in the right situation.

The gargantuan Osweiler is similar to Tannehill in some ways. The former Gonzaga basketball recruit stands just a shade under 6-foot-8, and has the foot quickness of a successful power forward. He's noted to be a leader and a hard worker; but with a good-but-not-elite arm, Osweiler isn't seen as a sure-fire first-round candidate.

Then again, neither was Tim Tebow.

Foles is said to be a natural leader and is Arizona's all-time passing leader, but neither of those things brought him many wins as a starter. He's got Roethlisbergean dimensions of 6-foot-5, 240 pounds with a good not great arm. His feet look a bit heavy, and probably isn't a first round prospect.

Then again, neither was... (you know the drill).

With several teams unable to claim that their quarterback of their future is currently on their roster, and very slim chances of trading up for Griffin (zero chance for Luck), those mid-range teams may be eager enough to keep a 10-year tradition alive by throwing some extra picks at a team in the 20s for the rights to a quarterback.

Washington is a prime candidate for this. Drafting sixth overall, they aren't likely to land Griffin without a substantially expensive trade up to No. 2 overall with St. Louis. While Cleveland may have been able to pull off a deal last year that moved them from six to 27 (and in return, took the collective draft soul of the Atlanta Falcons for 2011-12), this year doesn't have a prospect that's highly desirable at that spot.

If Washington wants a first-round QB such as Tannehill, it will likely have to trade back into the top 32 picks somewhere. They have a second (38th overall) and third round pick in this draft, along with two fourths and two sixths.

Miami is in a similar position as Washington, and if efforts to trade up for Griffin fail, they may look to toss a combo platter of second-to-fifth round picks to get back into the first round. It seems less likely, the way the draft order is today, that a team drafting behind the Steelers would trade up for a quarterback. But there are always prospects who fall a bit further than they're expected to go. Quality teams have depth, and perhaps they feel they're really just a player or two away from drafting 32nd next year.

The Steelers have never traded out of the first round under GM Kevin Colbert, but with such a deep draft and holes to fill, this may not be a bad year to explore the option.

This is the fourth part in a collaborative effort from the editorial staff at BTSC, providing some arguments behind possible positional directions the Steelers may go with their first round pick - currently scheduled for the 24th overall. These will be posted each day this week, and will not be distributed based on order of preference.

Part I - Wide Receiver

Part II - Trading Up

Part III - Inside Linebacker