There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the guessing going on more than anything with little action going on. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be the timeless No. 1 hit from 1985, “Take On Me” by a-ha.
Here’s a sample of that great single...
So needless to say
I’m odds and ends
I’ll be stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is OK
Say after me
It’s no better to be safe than sorry
Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)
I’ll be gone
In a day or two
Oh the things that you say
Is it live or
Just to play my worries away
You’re all the things I’ve got to remember
You’re shying away
I’ll be coming for you anyway
You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some great 80s techno pop from Norway. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
The Steelers are likely to trade up in the first round for Justin Fields
Reports came out this week that the Steelers have a whole lot of interest in Justin Fields. To do so, the interest would have to be so high that Kevin Colbert and Company would have to be keen to the possibility of trading up in the draft for the quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Now it’s not out of the question for the black and gold to trade current and future picks to slide up and take a player that they greatly covet. It happened just as recently as 2019 when the franchise traded a second in ‘19 and a third in ‘20 to select Devin Bush Jr. But Bush was selected to fill an immediate need and because he could start right away. The quarterback position in 2021 is not as pressing as other positions such as center and running back. I view Fields as the fourth-best quarterback in the draft class and I can’t see the Steelers parting with valuable draft capital to obtain him with Ben Roethlisberger extended. But with the sprinkling in of Matt Canada’s offense, Justin could be the ideal quarterback of the future and the Steelers could get started on the future now, instead of getting No. 7 the help that he needs now.
It’s okay to pick a running back in the first round
It used to be that the first round of the entry draft would be littered with top-flight running backs. But that has changed quite a bit in the new millennium. In the last ten drafts, only six rushers have gone in the top ten and a mere 12 were selected in the first round. Last year, LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Hellaire barely made it on the first day by being tabbed by Kansas City with the final pick of Round 1. In the second round of last year’s draft, standouts D’Andre Swift (35), Johnathan Taylor (41), Cam Akers (52) and J.K. Dobbins (55) went between 32 and 55. The earliest instance that the Steelers selected a back in the past decade was 2013 when they grabbed Le’Veon Bell in the second round with the 48th pick overall. Even though there is value in the third and fourth rounds with runners such as Trey Sermon, Kenneth Gainwell, Rhamondre Stevenson and Chubba Hubbard (to name a few)... the trio of Travis Etienne, Najee Harris and Javonte Williams seem ready to start Week One and could be game breakers. They could all possibly be gotten in the second round, but it’s very unlikely they they will last when the Steelers pick next at 55. Needs at center and offensive tackle are great, I know that. But it all depends on how much the Steelers want these named positions. They could still get a very good OT in Round 2 and could very well get a blockbuster center in Round 3. But the front office needs to determine which one of these guys that they want the most and not care what round they take him in, regardless of whether it’s not considered a typical Round 1 position anymore.
Cornerback is now high on the list of priorities
I’ve read plenty of submissions in live chats and in comment sections in which the author would voice how dismayed they would be if the Steelers took defense with their top pick. I get how pressing the need is for offensive players is in this draft. I just rambled on excessively in the previous offering. However, Joe Haden will not be around too much longer, as this is the final season on his contract and Steven Nelson is gone. That leaves Cameron Sutton, James Pierre and Justin Layne. Sutton has the most experience of the trio, but still has not garnered a lot of time because of the presence of Hayden and Nelson. I know that the Steelers have a stigma of not being great at drafting the corner position, but we do forget about some decent selections like William Gay, Keenan Lewis and Sutton. If the Steelers were drafting in the top 10 year after year, they would be better at drafting at that particular position. But I also know that I have a hard time arguing this point with a lot of people. If the right player is available though, the Steelers front office needs to keep on trying.
Trading back is fine, but ideally not out of the first round
I am definitely on Team Trade Back, but as deep as this draft is in some places… the Steelers don’t want to drop too far back. The main reason for that is the fifth-year option that comes with a first round pick is so critical. Also, the Steelers don’t want to lose out on a possible immediate starter and franchise player. Of course, one could come in the second round or another. But if the Steelers could get another second round pick (which is a hard get) or a third (more realistic), They could surely accomplish a lot of their goals in the 2021 draft. What I’d really like to see them get is a fifth-round pick. Since they lost one in the Chris Wormley trade last year (they did get a sixth in that same trade though), they will go a long time without a selection on Day Three. I’m still in favor of the trade down, but only if it’s done strategically. Trading down with Tampa Bay, who could use a running back, could give the Steelers the No. 32 and the No. 64 pick to go with their 55th.
Character issues aren’t that big of a deal when it comes to draft prospects
Jeff Hartman brought this up the other day on The Steelers Preview and I had a chance to really think about it. Character issues are actually an enormous deal when selecting a player in any round. even those with great talent suffer on the field because of their suspensions. Josh Gordon was not the same when he finally came back, neither was Martavis Bryant really. Bryant was a first round talent that fell all the way to the Steelers in the fourth round. I don’t think they would make that selection again if they knew then what would lead to his trade. Sure trouble can find a player without issues as well. Randy Gregory and Shane Ray cone to mind as guys that dropped because of off-field issues and never lived up to their talent. Now there are many that you could bring up, despite red flags, that flourished. But the bottom line remains that blemishes on the record can become a headache that can’t be remedied for franchises.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.