Some trades look really nice on paper, and others don’t.
A trade for a first round pick looks great until that pick turns into a player. Suddenly, it seems completely different, and might be a better, or worse deal than it seemed at first.
The Steelers made multiple trades that were finalized in this year’s draft, and thankfully for the Steelers, many still look very similar, if not better, than when they were first made.
Time to take a look at the trades which were made, and how they panned out after completion:
Trade 1: Steelers trade 2019 pick #20 overall, 2019 second rounder, 2020 third rounder, for Bronco’s 2019 pick #10 overall.
How the trade turned out: Steelers trade TE Noah Fant, TE Drew Sample, C Lloyd Cushenberry III, for Bronco’s LB Devin Bush.
In a rare trade where both teams seemingly won, the Steelers got their athletic middle linebacker in Devin Bush, while the Broncos loaded up on three future starters.
While Broncos fans will say they won this trade, the Steelers got exactly what they needed in Devin Bush, who made the All-Rookie Team in 2019 and looks to be a perennial Pro-Bowler in the future.
The Broncos traded up in the second round using their newly acquired second rounder from the Steelers, as well as their own fourth and sixth round picks. That second round pick went on to Cincinnati and was used to draft Drew Sample, a blocking tight end out of Washington that has underwhelmed in the NFL.
However, Denver’s trade up resulted in them selecting Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, who looks to be a longtime starter in Denver, even though he isn’t completely locked in as the franchise passer yet.
The rest of the Bronco’s compensation resulted in Noah Fant, Denver’s 2019 first rounder, who is an athletic tight end that had an up and down rookie season, but looks to be a full-time starter down the road. Their 2020 third rounder, Lloyd Cushenberry, hasn’t played an NFL down yet, but is a solid center prospect who will be coached under the great Mike Munchak in Denver.
Both teams get an ‘A’ grade in my book, which could be bumped to an ‘A+’ if Bush continues to improve and Lock manages to stick around in Denver.
Trade 2: Steelers trade QB Josh Dobbs for Jaguar’s 2020 fifth round pick.
How the trade turned out: Steelers trade QB Josh Dobbs for DL Jason Strowbridge.
Wait… what?? Strowbridge isn’t a Steeler!
No, he was actually drafted by another team, but we’ll get to that later. Instead, focus on the genius of Steeler’s GM Kevin Colbert, who was able to trade a third-string quarterback who the team might of let go anyway for a fifth round pick. In retrospect, the Steelers ended up needing a third string quarterback last season, but Devlin Hodges stepped up and held his own. I’m not sure if Dobbs would have done any better.
Dobbs hasn’t done much in Jacksonville, and his team drafted another quarterback, Jake Luton, in the sixth round this year, meaning that they must not have faith in the rocket scientist from Tennessee. The Jaguars get an ‘F’ in my grade book, while the Steelers get a solid ‘B’, especially because that fifth rounder was used in this trade…
Trade 3: Steelers trade 2020 #18 overall, Jaguar’s 2020 fifth round pick, and 2021 seventh round pick for Miami S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tennessee’s 2020 fourth round pick, and a 2021 sixth round pick.
How the trade turned out: Steelers trade OT Austin Jackson, DL Jason Strowbridge, and a 2021 seventh round pick, for S Minkah Fitzpatrick, OG Kevin Dotson, and a 2021 sixth round pick.
In perhaps the best trade of the season, the Steelers gained a All-Pro, defense-altering safety in Fitzpatrick, who looks to be better than any player the Steelers could’ve drafted at #18.
For Fitzpatrick, the Steelers traded their first round pick that turned into USC OT Austin Jackson, a lineman who looks to have a successful career in the NFL, but was considered a reach in the first round by many draft pundits.
Pittsburgh also managed to engineer a move up into the fourth round in that same trade, swapping Jason Strowbridge for Kevin Dotson. Dotson might turn into a massive steal with his athleticism and nasty demeanor, and has a chance at starting in Ramon Foster’s place in 2020. Strowbridge was a nice pick as well for Miami, but Dotson was a better move for Pittsburgh.
The Dolphins had received the Titan’s fourth rounder in the Ryan Tannehill trade earlier that year.
In another layer of the Fitzpatrick trade, 2021 picks were also swapped, with the Steelers moving up from their seventh round pick to the Dolphin’s sixth rounder. We’ll get to see next year the full results of this blockbuster trade.
The Steelers get an ‘A+’ for this trade without a doubt, while the Dolphins get a ‘C+’. Miami traded away an incredible player, but their hand was forced for the most part, and they still managed to get an additional first rounder.
However, Pittsburgh still wins this trade by a landslide.
Trade 4: Pittsburgh trades 2020 fifth round pick for Seattle TE Nick Vannett.
How the trade turned out: Pittsburgh trades LB Khaleke Hudson for Seattle TE Nick Vannett.
In Kevin Colbert’s most head-scratching move of 2019, Pittsburgh traded their fifth round pick in 2020 for a one-year rental of Seattle TE Nick Vannett.
Vannett was an decent player in his time with the Steelers, putting up below-average numbers but still contributing as a blocker. However, he had only one year left on his contact when he arrived, and didn't earn a second deal with the team, making the trade look even worse in hindsight.
Seattle ended up trading the pick they received to the Redskins to acquire CB Quinton Dunbar, who had a breakout season in 2019. The Redskins turned that pick into Michigan hybrid linebacker Khaleke Hudson, who projects to be more of a tweener in the NFL, but has the upside to be well worth the fifth round pick.
The Steelers get a ‘D’ here, as Vannett only lasted one year and didn't do much during his stay. Also, Hudson was a player who the Steelers were reportedly interested during the draft process, who was ultimately the pick at that fifth round selection.
Seattle gets a ‘B+’ for managing to trade Vannett, who was probably on his way out of the Seahawks organization anyway. They also managed to flip their acquired fifth rounder for a solid corner in Dunbar, which looks to be a nice improvement to their secondary.
Thankfully, the Steelers still managed to nab their version of Hudson in their sixth round pick in 2020, grabbing a feisty box safety in Antoine Brooks Jr.
Kevin Colbert did some more wheeling-and-dealing than the Steeler’s franchise is generally known for in 2019 and 2020, but for the most part, the trades worked out the best way possible.
And, as much as I like Austin Jackson and Noah Fant, I would much rather be watching Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush leading the Steelers’ formidable defense for years to come.