Do you have a statistics question (either large or small) about the Steelers or NFL football? Send them in to BTSC’s stat geek at STLRSuperFanDad@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can find.
In this installment, the cost of trading up in the 2019 NFL draft is discussed.
Bryan Haines from Baltimore, MD
“Do you think it’s possible the Steelers get into the top 10 with their second 3rd round pick, and first 6th round pick? Then could they trade back into the first round with their 2nd ,3rd and second 6th round picks? Do you think that’s even possible?”
I’m grateful for the word “possible” used in the question. We will look at this issue from the standpoint of what it would possibly take to make a move, and not as to whether or not the Steelers would consider doing it. The lone exception would be including picks from the 2020 draft. The Steelers are notorious for wanting to hold on to their future picks, especially when it comes to the first round. So looking at anything above a third round pick in 2020 just doesn’t make any sense, and chances are teams wouldn’t want a pick next season outside of the first two rounds.
When looking at what it would take to trade up at any point in the NFL draft, it really is a two pronged approach. First, it is important to look at what teams have received in the past to see what they may be willing to do. Additionally, there are draft a value predicting tools used to see if there is value in a trade. So we will look at using both of these resources.
I will give a disclaimer that it appears the values in the predictor do not necessarily match those which have actually happened in the past. The predictor appears to be a little more conservative in what a team trading back would be willing to accept. Additionally, once a team is inside the top 10, the values per pick get higher and higher much more than anywhere else in the draft.
Just to recap, here are the 10 draft picks the Steelers currently own for the 2019 draft:
Trading into the Top 10
There has been a trade where a team moved into a better draft position in the first round involving a top 10 pick multiple times over the last 10 years. Although it’s difficult to find a one-to-one comparison of what the Steelers would need to do, there are several instances which can give an indication as to what it might take to move up to a certain spot. Here are some of the most notable trades that could help determine what value would be needed.
2018: The Buffalo Bills moved up from the 12th pick to the seventh pick which also cost them their two second round picks (53rd and 56th). Also, the Arizona Cardinals moved into the 10th drafting position while giving up their 15th pick, along with a third round (79th) and fifth round (152nd) pick.
2017: Kansas City moved up into the 10th position from the 27th pick. They also had to give up their third round pick (91st) and their first round pick in the 2018 draft (which ended up being the 22nd pick).
2016: The Tennessee Titans moved from the 15th overall selection up to the eighth which also cost them their third round pick (76th) and their second round pick for 2017 (which ended up being the 52nd pick). Subsequently, Cleveland also gave up their sixth round pick (176th) along with the eighth selection overall.
2011: The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up from the 16th position to the 10th position while also surrendering their second round pick (49th).
Predictor: Using the pick value calculator on footballguys.com, if the Steelers offered their first round pick (20th), their second pick in the third round (83rd), and the first of their sixth round picks (175th) as asked in the original question, the highest position they could get would be the 11th pick. If instead of offering the Steelers second third round pick (83rd), and instead they offered their first (66th), they have the possibility of moving higher. Here are some picks in the best possible spot the Steelers could get (the round is in parentheses):
20th (1), 83rd (3b), & 175th (6a) -> 11th
20th (1), 66th (3a) -> 8th
20th (1), 66th (3a), & 141st (5) -> 7th
20th (1), 66th (3a), & 83rd (3b) -> 3rd
20th (1) & 52nd (2) -> 6th
20th (1), 52nd (2), & 141st (5) -> 5th
Conclusion: With the Steelers having to move up more than 10 spots to get into the top 10, they will have to include either their first pick in the third round or their second round pick. Based on what all they would package would determine what it would take for each spot inside the top 10. Personally, I think to get above the eighth pick, it would take both of the third round picks and possibly even their second round selection.
Trading into the End of the First Round
There is also a lot of precedence of teams trading into the end of the first round using their second round pick. While many of these trades involve teams drafting in the first eight picks in the second round, there are a few examples of a team drafting further back like the Steelers in order to compare what it would take.
2018: The Baltimore Ravens traded up into the last pick of the first round using their second round pick (52nd), fourth round pick (125th), and their 2019 second round pick. The Ravens also received Philadelphia’s fourth round pick (132nd) as well as the 32nd pick.
2013: The Miami Dolphins traded their second round pick (52nd), third round pick (83rd), fourth round pick (102nd), and seventh round pick (229th) in order to move up to the 29th pick in the draft.
2010: The Denver Broncos traded up to the 25th pick in the draft by using their second round pick (43rd), third round pick (70th), and fourth round pick (114th).
Predictor: Still using footballguys.com, moving into the end of the first round is not nearly as expensive as moving up to the top of the draft. Although the original question dealt with using the first third round selection by the Steelers, I will focus more on using the second selection in the third round due to the fact the first one would probably be used up if the Steelers make the previous move into the top 10. For the record, the original question of using the Steelers second (52nd), first in the third round (66), and first in the sixth round (175), the predictor would allow them to move up to the 21st position. Here are some of the best possibilities:
52nd (2), 66th (3a), & 175th (6a) -> 21st
52nd (2), 83rd (3b), & 175th (6a) -> 28th
52nd (2), 83rd (3b), & 192nd (6b) -> 29th
52nd (2), 83rd (3b), & 141st (5) -> 26th
52nd (2), 83rd (3b), & 122nd (4) -> 25th
Conclusion: I still believe the predictor is a little generous, but it’s not too far off here. Denver traded their second, third, and fourth for the 25th pick in 2010 (for Tim Tebow), but their selections were all at least eight picks higher than what the Steelers own. I think it’s more likely for the final pick in the first round or the top of the second round if the Steelers want to use their fifth or sixth round picks instead of their fourth.
Making Both Trades?
I think it would be tough for the Steelers to make both of these trades. In order to get up to around the 9th pick and the 30th pick, it could take every pick they have in 2019. While the Steelers probably don’t need 10 players in the draft, I think they would want at least five.
My belief is if the Steelers have someone they really like in the draft and they are still available at the 7th pick, I start making calls to every team from that point on until they get the deal or the player is gone. If they do make the move, any other trade would probably involve moving back instead of up.
I have intentionally left names of specific players out of the discussion because this exercise was about the numbers of swapping picks. But if the right player was available, I’d be willing to give up our first, both third round picks, and any two picks from the fifth round on to make it happen.
What does BTSC think? Would you rather move up in the first round, into the end of first, or do you think both are possible? What would you be willing to give up, and how high do you think the Steelers could get? I look forward to what you all suggest.