Every year, leading up to the NFL Draft, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert does his little dance with the media, where he says the team would not be opposed to trading up, trading down or standing pat (he almost always stands pat) in the first round.
The theory this year is that Pittsburgh should absolutely try to trade up if one of the Devin’s—realistically, Michigan’s Devin Bush—slips far enough into the middle portion of the first round to make such a deal doable.
I agree. I think most would agree that inside linebacker is the team’s biggest need, a need that may be addressed much more adequately with a 21-year old rookie with speed and upside than a going on 30-year old veteran just picked up in free agency who may be in the twilight of his career (Mark Barron).
Nothing against Barron, who very-well could be a tremendous asset to the defense in 2019, but he doesn’t seem like much of an impact player these days.
Does Bush? Nobody knows for certain, but that’s why they call the draft one giant crap-shoot. But the closer you get to the top of the first round, the greater the chance of finding an impact player, hence the desire to see the Steelers trade up to get a prospect such as Bush.
And with 10 picks to use as trade ammo, why not get on the phone if Bush is in sight?
How about trading down? Trading down, really, with 10 picks? In years past, when Pittsburgh was perhaps struggling in the draft capital department, the thought of trading down in the first round (or even out of the first round) and acquiring more picks seemed sensible. But with 10 this year, that just seems unnecessary.
It isn’t like the Browns of a two or three years ago, when 15 rookies made the team. The Steelers may have their struggles and their deficiencies and their weaknesses, but even after the departure of some very serious offensive production, Pittsburgh is still believed to be closer to a contender than a team about to blow it all up.
Teams that are blowing things up want lots of rookies. Teams that are believed to be contenders don’t have room for many youngsters.
True, by bringing more draft picks into camp, you increase the odds of finding some really good ones (I doubt even the Steelers believe they will break camp this summer with all 10 draft picks having made the team). But, again, by trading up in the first round, you increase the odds of finding a splash player.
The last two times the Steelers traded up in the first round, it led to finding players who would be integral to future Super Bowl success.
Everyone gets enamored with draft picks in the spring, but those Super Bowl victories in the winter are much more gratifying.
The Steelers are probably going to stay true to their draft board and just stand pat on Thursday, but if there’s any thought of making a trade, up, not down, is the only way to go.