Recently I wrote an article debating the merits of drafting BPA (best player available) versus PON (position of need) which resulted in some interesting debate and conversation. The general consensus was the Steelers were better served to utilize both principles when approaching their picks and breaking down their draft board.
One concept I feel we can all agree on is categorizing prospects by their presumed draft value. This value is often in a constant state of flux because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Teams will rate each prospect differently based on their team needs and the projected fit with their organizations. However, most prospects will grade out within a round or two on each team's draft boards, unless they have been moved down the board or removed altogether due to personality or legal issues.
That's how teams and draft experts rate value picks. It is far from an exact science and is more of a general consensus. Take last season's Steelers first round selection Terrell Edmunds for example. There was a bolt of excitement permeating through Steelers Nation leading up to last year's draft. Most of the fanbase felt a strong draft class could push the team over the proverbial hump. Then the first round picks started coming off the board and the Steelers hopes for their next great inside linebacker went up in smoke. By the time the Steelers pick rolled around I was thinking, "Now what?"
When Edmunds selection was announced I can't imagine I was the only fan thinking "Who?" Now don't get me wrong. I was very familiar with Edmunds the player since I live in the area and follow the team. I am slightly knowledgeable when it comes to the WV Mountaineers and Virginia Tech Hokies players, and players from both their power conferences. I, like the Steelers, had Edmunds rated higher than some, but even I had him rated as a second round selection. Therefore, if I am being honest and based solely on my predraft assessment, the selection wasn't a good value pick. Now I must acknowledge that my opinion, like everybody else not in the Steelers draft room, is meaningless, but the truth will set you free. The selection feels like a reach, a knee jerk reaction to the board not falling their way.
The Steelers very well could be faced with a similar scenario this season when their pick comes up. Unless the Steelers go out of character and aggressively attempt to trade up, and find that seemingly elusive trading partner, it appears more than likely that their coveted ILB prospects will already be off the board. They may be left to choose from some overrated cornerback prospects and some uber talented receivers in a receiver rich draft class. The Steelers could also be faced with a interesting dilemma.
What if Missouri QB Drew Lock is still on the board and represents by far your best draft value at that selection? What if the Steelers consider Lock at top ten talent? They would have to consider making the pick. Crazy I know, but stick with me for a second.
We are strictly talking value here. No position holds their value like a NFL caliber QB. There are just not enough of them to go around. It is difficult to find 32 individuals walking the planet who have starting NFL QB capabilities. The NFL is driven by star power and QBs are the shining lights. Every team that doesn't have the One is looking for the One. Drew Lock is widely considered to have NFL starting QB potential and abilities, but based on the talent makeup of this draft class and the individual needs of the teams selecting ahead of the Steelers, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Lock could have a Aaron Rodgers type drop.
The easy answer would be sit back and field any and all offers coming in to trade back, but what if they don't receive a offer that knocks their socks off and the best decision based on value is to select him? This could end up being a tricky situation.
The Steelers are in the process of working out an extension for franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger. Ben was not pleased with the Mason Rudolph selection last year due to the team's more pressing needs and his expressed desire to continue playing through a contract extension. Ben might not look positively on the Steelers selecting another heir apparent in consecutive drafts. The decision to draft Lock might very well impact Ben's contract negotiations.
This is where clear and concise communication between the Steelers and Roethlisberger comes into play. This extension represents the final contract of Ben's career and should result in him only playing for Steelers franchise for the entirety of his Hall of Fame career, but the truth is Ben isn't going to play forever. His competitiveness is legendary, but football isn't his whole life. Tom Brady's life, similar to Jerry Rice before him, seems to revolve around football. It appears he intends to play till his body will no longer allow it. Ben is the little kid playing on the playground, running around having fun. What happens when the game isn't fun anymore; due to unfair outside criticism, unavoidable aches and pains, or family responsibilities? I fear the end could come swiftly and unexpectedly.
This contract extension is the Steelers opportunity to set Ben's mind at ease and reaffirm their commitment to Ben and his legacy. Go ahead and select Drew Lock. If you feel he could be Ben's eventual replacement, let him sit and learn. He is far from a finished product at this point. His value in the meantime could skyrocket after the draft or during the season due to injury and you find yourself with a Jimmy Garoppolo situation on your hands.
Either way, great value pick. But make sure your franchise QB is on board first.