The Pittsburgh Steelers are not the most active NFL franchise when it comes to pulling off trades during the NFL draft, but they certainly haven’t been shy about making a move they feel is best for their franchise. If the Steelers feel like the player they think will make a difference with their team is available, they will do what they can to go get him. Additionally, the Steelers have answered the phone when other teams have come calling in order to move up in the draft.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Steelers trades they have made since the year 2000. Sticking with this date not only because the millennium mark is a good cut off point, it is also what Steelers fans know as the “Kevin Colbert era” in the Steelers front office.
In this installment, I’m going to look at the top five times where the Steelers traded back in the NFL draft since 2000. With all but one selection involving only draft picks, the criteria was the Steelers gave up a higher draft pick in order to pick up additional assets, whether it be picks or players. Since the Steelers have only traded back five times since 2000, every trade me the list. It should also be noted the last time the Steelers traded back was over 10 years ago.
5. 2006: Trading out of the 2nd Round
Gave Up: Pick 64 (RD 2)- Tavaris Jackson
Received: Picks 83 & 95 (RD 3)- Anthony Smith & Willie Reid
When there’s only five choices available, coming in fifth place is not the honor it sounds. Although it wasn’t a bad idea for the Steelers to gain two third-round picks in place for a second, they didn’t exactly do a lot with their selections. The players only lasted two and three seasons respectively with the Steelers, and Willie Reid never panned out as either a receiver or a kick returner. As for Anthony Smith, he was known more for his bulletin board material than his actual play on the field. It’s not like the Steelers had any interest in drafting Tavares Jackson, and there weren’t any other players at the positions they selected who would have been a vast improvement in the 19 selections where the Steelers traded back. The most notable player taken between Jackson and Smith was tackle Eric Winston.
4. 2008: Trading back in the 4th Round
Gave Up: Pick 123 (RD 4)- Bryan Kehl
Received: Picks 130 & 94 (RD 4 & 6)- Tony Hills & Ryan Mundy
Moving back seven picks in the fourth round in order to pick up a six round pick was a great move for the Steelers, assuming Hills was the player they wanted the entire time. By doing so, they picked up Ryan Mundy who made the team, appeared in every game for four seasons, and even started five games for the Steelers. The Steelers didn’t appear to miss out on much of anything by moving back as the only significant player taken in those seven positions was tight end Jacob Tamme.
3. 2009: Trading out of the 2nd Round
Gave Up: Pick 64 & 132 (RD 2 & 4)- Richard Quinn & Seth Olsen
Received: Picks 79 & 84 (RD 3)- Kraig Urbik & Mike Wallace
Apparently the Steelers don’t like to hold on to the 64th pick when it is the final selection of the second round because both times they had it after winning the Super Bowl they have traded back. This time, the Steelers gave up their second and fourth-round picks in order to gain two more third-round picks. Although Craig Urbik was only with the Steelers for one season and didn’t appear in a game, he had a solid career with the Buffalo Bills starting 57 games in six seasons. What makes this trade even better for the Steelers was the addition of Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace. Although the Steelers did miss out on the opportunity of drafting guard Luis Vasquez the pick before they selected Urbik, the fact they gained Wallace made this a really good deal since we don’t know for sure who the Steelers would have selected at 64.
2. 2001: Trading back in the 1st Round
Gave Up: Pick 16 (RD 1)- Santana Moss
Received: Picks 19, 111, & 181 (RD 1, 4, & 6)- Casey Hampton, Mathias Nkwenti, & Rodney Bailey
The only trade back the Steelers have done in the first round in the Kevin Colbert era came 20 years ago. Although the Steelers did miss out on the chance to draft Hall of Fame guard Steve Hutchinson by moving back three positions, I doubt they regret it as Casey Hampton stuffed the middle of the Steelers defense for 12 seasons. What makes this trade even better is the resulting trade which followed. By picking up the 111th pick, the Steelers traded their own 112th pick in order to move up in the second round to draft Kendrell Bell. In all, the Steelers moved back, got their nose tackle, got the capital to trade up in round two, and added a sixth round pick. That’s pretty nice work.
1. 2010: Trading out of the 5th Round
Gave Up: Pick 155 (RD 5)- John Skelton
Received: Bryant McFadden & Pick 195 (RD 6)- Antonio Brown
The trade back scenario which occurred the latest in the NFL draft, as well as most recently, was when the Steelers gave up a fifth-round pick for a player and a sixth-round pick. First, the pick the Steelers surrendered they acquired from the New York Jets by trading Santonio Holmes. Trading back with Arizona and regaining defensive back to Bryan McFadden after a year away from Pittsburgh, the Steelers pulled off one of their greatest late-round draft picks of all time in Antonio Brown. The Steelers also made two other selections from the time they traded the pick to when they drafted Brown. One other item of note, there were a combined three Pro Bowl appearances by players drafted in the 2010 draft between pick 155 and 195. Those Pro Bowls came from Greg Hardy (one) and Reshad Jones (two). With Brown earning seven Pro Bowls and for All-Pros during his nine years in Pittsburgh, it will be difficult to ever top this trade back.
So there are the top five (and only five) draft day trades where the Steelers moved back in the Kevin Colbert era. Be on the lookout for the follow-up article outlining the Steelers top five moves were they traded up in the NFL draft.
What do you think? Did I get the order correct? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.