The Pittsburgh Steelers made a bold move in the draft when they traded up to the tenth spot to select inside linebacker Devin Bush. I am enamored with the former Michigan Wolverines and am excited to see him hit the field. The issue is that veteran linebackers, Vince Williams and Mark Barron sit atop of the depth chart. With three linebackers making over $3 million in 2019, the team will have one heck of an expensive backup., Sink or swim, the team sticks with Williams and Barron and keeps 46 game starter, Jon Bostic as a quality reserve. How would the Steelers draft have turned out if the team had traded back instead of up? That is exactly what I will tackle.
To begin with, Pittsburgh will trade back with the Green Bay Packers. With the draft class so deep, gaining draft capital will be beneficial. With the 30th pick, the Steelers select Washington Husky Byron Murphy.
30th overall pick
2019 fourth-round pick No. 114
2019 fourth-round pick No. 118
2020 fourth-round pick
2019 first-round pick No. 20
(This is exactly the trade the Packers did to trade up to 21 except for adding the 2020 fourth rounder for the additional slot.)
Draft “experts” shook their head as the cornerback position slid during the draft. Was this because of the quality of the cornerback class or teams securing other needs? While Murphy does not have a clear route to securing a starting gig in 2019, contract year cornerback Joe Haden has never started all 16 games in his nine-year career while missing 20 games over the past four seasons. Newcomer Stephen Nelson is coming off his first season without missing games due to injury in his four-year career. Murphy would add insurance that fans would not see Artie Burns floundering around on the field in 2019.
Pittsburgh moves up in the second round. We send our original pick 52 and the pick 114 gained from Green Bay. According to the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart, pick #42 is worth 480 points but Denver only paid 445.2. I will sweeten the pot with a value of 446. With the 42nd overall selection, the Steelers would turn in their draft card with tight end Irv Smith Jr written on it.
2019 second-round pick No. 42
2019 second-round pick No. 52
2019 fourth-round pick No. 114
With the loss of tight end Jesse James and wideout Antonio Brown, the Steelers needed to add on offense weapon who will generate offensive production in 2019 and beyond. The 6-4 241 pound tight end out of Alabama had 44 receptions for 710 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Smith also becomes a valued insurance policy for oft-injured Vance McDonald. In two seasons with the Steelers, McDonald has missed 7 of a possible 32 games. The move ensures that Xavier Grimble snaps and mistakes will be limited which would be a sigh of relief to Steeler Nation.
Another glaring need the Steelers have is at safety. The Steelers played in their dime subpackage 37% in 2018. That is a substantial increase over 24% in 2017. The void left by disgruntled and ineffective Morgan Burnett is filled with another trade up into the 56th spot for safety Nasir Adderley.
2019 second-round pick No. 56
» 2019 third-round pick No. 66
» 2019 fifth-round pick No. 118
(According to the trade value chart, the Steelers would be giving up 1.8 points more than the actual trade the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off to move into the same slot.)
Adderley had an impressive college career with 265 tackles, four interceptions, 24 passes defended along with four forced fumbles. The three analysts’ reports from the Football Network praised former Delaware product for not only his football IQ but his versatility.
With Burnett’s departure and questions surrounding the current Steelers inside backers ability to cover, Adderley would immediately come in and fill those snaps and give the Steelers an increase in scheme flexibility. He would also give the Steelers insurance if Sean Davis’ career stalls in his contract year or make him expendable.
Summary after two rounds.
30th pick: Cornerback Byron Murphy
42nd pick: Tight end Irv Smith Jr.
56th pick: Safety Nasir Adderley
Picks remaining: 83, 122, 141, 175, 192, 207, and 219.
Coming into the 2019 draft for the first few rounds, my wish list was to come out of the draft with adding a cornerback with the ability to fill in this year and become a full-time starter next season while letting an expensive and injury-plagued Haden walk. A tight end with the ability to see the field in Week 1 while being a weapon in the passing game while possessing run blocking ability. I had concerns with whom would play the dime safety or in big nickel. Murphy, Smith, and Adderley would push those concerns to the back burner in 2019 and hopefully, years to come.
Which pick did you like the most?
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