I’ve heard this said by fans many times before, but I never really put much thought into it. There are various different ways it has been phrased, so here are a few:
“Yeah, the Steelers traded a third-round pick the next year for Devin bush, But they should get a third-round comp pick to help cover it.”
“If the Steelers traded back, they could pick up an additional fifth-round pick since they don’t have one this year.”
I never really put a lot of thought into statements like this. If the Steelers were to have to give up a draft pick in certain round, it is nice to get that pick back in another way. But does it being in the same around really matter?
I saw a comment somewhere, whether it be at BTSC or on one of our social media posts, where somebody asked this question. They were wondering why fans felt the need to have a pick and every round. Their point was there was no added benefit to it.
It just got me thinking. Is there an advantage to having a pick in every round of the NFL draft?
After much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion of that it’s not that there isn’t any benefit, but it’s also not the most important issue.
First, as to why it’s not overly important: Higher picks are better than picks in every round.
Obviously it’s better to have higher draft picks and have an opportunity to pick players earlier, but I don’t see this scenario playing out either between Kevin Colbert and another GM from a team the Steelers could possibly look to be trading with:
Mystery GM: “Alright, Kevin, we’ll make that deal and send you our fourth-round pick.”
Colbert: “Actually, we already have two fourth-round picks. We don’t have a fifth, so we’ll take your fifth-round pick instead.”
Making a move of this nature would even cause the “ultimate job security” Steelers to be on the lookout for a new general manager.
Bottom line is when making trades, acquiring picks, or sending picks somewhere else, having a selection in each round plays no bearing in trying to get the best deal.
But on the other hand, when the NFL draft rolls around, having a selection in every round does have its advantages.
For example, the Steelers are scheduled to go 76 selections between their fourth-round compensatory draft pick and their sixth-round draft pick. Had it not been for the Steelers getting the comp pick for the loss of Javon Hargrave, the Steelers will be going 88 spots without making a selection.
Why does this matter? Because when looking at positions of need and player rankings when the Steelers know they have a long time between selections could create the possibility of not taking the best player available.
When the Steelers are getting ready to take their first of their fourth-round picks in the 2021 NFL draft, they have some pretty good freedom as they know they will be selecting again in only 12 spots. If they have multiple players in mind, it makes it much easier to draft a player they think would not make it another 12 picks before they have the opportunity to select again. When it’s 76 picks rather than 12, that’s a large gap where players will not be available.
Imagine a scenario where the Steelers had a player they could take at pick 140 that they did not expect to be there. Chances are, if they are that much of a player value, they would have selected them at pick 128 inless they got a steal there as well. But let’s imagine that wasn’t the case. If the Steelers had someone they thought would be a good selection at 140, but then someone else was also there they couldn’t pass up, the likelihood of one of them making it another 76 picks is much worse than if the Steelers would have had a selection in another 25 picks or so. Now if they really want to take the player they thought they might be selecting at 140, it might take a trade up into round five in order to get them.
Could this be overthinking the situation? Absolutely. But my ultimate point is going long stretches of not having a draft pick changes up the draft strategy. It would stick to have a portion of the NFL draft where teams are getting tremendous value on their picks and your team does not have a selection in that zone. In most cases, you’re not even going to know what that zone is for sure going into the draft, so having a large gap without picks could mean you’re missing out on something. Then again, it might not.
Like I said earlier, it’s really not the biggest problem to be dealing with but it’s still a slight disadvantage. In all actuality, if a team is going to be missing picks from any round, they would be better off not having a selection in the seventh round. But even this is still something to work around as I often view the seventh round as a place where teams are basically taking an undrafted free agent but don’t have to fight other teams in order to get them. For example, would anyone have blinked an eye if the Steelers would have drafted James Pierre in Round 7 and signed Carlos Davis as an undrafted free agent? Probably not. But the Steelers might have had more competition to land Davis after the draft, especially with his twin brother drafted by another franchise.
After all this, it’s not even necessarily about having a draft pick in every round. The more important issue is it is nice to not have large gaps of the draft without any picks. In reality, it’s likely more an issue with fans where they feel like they could be missing out on a “fifth-round prospect.” Or even more important, fans don’t like waiting even longer before they see the Steelers’ selection come across the screen. I know I don’t.