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2013 NFL Draft: Looking at first round options in case Heath Miller isn't 100 percent

The Steelers have traded up twice in GM Kevin Colbert's tenure, but they've never traded down. A reader brings up the idea of targeting a position for a trade down.

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I get email from readers here and there, certainly not often enough to run one of those cliched mailbag things. It's extremely helpful, though. This time of the year, writer's block is as easy to catch as a cold is. Getting feedback and thoughts from readers helps power through that.

In the same vein as the comments columns I ran last week, I'm grabbing a comment a reader emailed me recently.

Assuming no defensive rookies will start, should we trade down in the first to grab one of the big freak TE's, and back up in the second to take the best remaining LB/S?

I don't target positions in the draft. You draft players, not positions. Positions are only used for tiebreakers. While the art of the draft is not a linear science, each team will create their respective 1-300 list of the best players. Based on that list, they won't draft the 25th best player on their board at 17. But if they're at 17, and they see 10 guys in their top 20 are still available, they'll entertain the notion of trading down - provided such an option is there.

If not, they are going to take the highest rated player they have on the board at the biggest position of need. It's possible they take someone a little lower on the overall board if the position is that high of a need and they love the player as a person, but they won't do that if his overall value is lower than the No. 17 pick. You just can't draft a player who's not worth the 17th pick, even if you have no players on the roster at that position. That's how Tom Donahoe got fired, Cowher lost a bit of his draft control and Colbert was hired. Too many Troy Edwards and Jeremy Staats and Scott Shields and Plaxico Burresses. It turned a Super Bowl roster into a 5-11 team.

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However, I'm struggling to remember the last time the Steelers traded down in the first round. We talk about it all the time, but we don't seem to mention the fact we haven't traded down in the first round since Colbert took over in 2000. Traded up twice, and tried to trade up at least one other time (last year, word is they were willing to give up a third to the Jets to move up and take DeCastro, but the Jets wanted a pass rusher, and since Bruce Irvin had just been taken, they didn't want to risk waiting on Coples at 24, so they just took him at 16. Worked out well for us...assuming you ignore the part where we drafted a sub-package linebacker with that third round pick and he suffered an injury that could potentially end his career).

All that being said, the question you asked was regarding the tight ends. If those players (Eifert and Ertz) are worth targeting, and they feel they'll be available at whichever spot they're trading down to, sure, especially if you're fleecing the other team. It'd have to be quite a bit, but I do like the depth at receiver (although some will gnash his teeth over the idea of drafting another 5-foot-10 receiver) in this draft. As much as I love Heath Miller, it's probably not smart to assume he's going to be 100 percent on the first day of training camp. That could extend through the preseason. It's not out of the question to wonder if he'll be back by Week 1.

Makes you wonder if David Johnson will be signed and given the opportunity to compete in training camp.

I wouldn't say tight end would be off the board for a pick, but I think it'd be quite a shock if they took one at 17. If they traded all the way down to the late 20s somewhere, that may be a decent move. It just doesn't seem likely right now.