It’s all hypothetical.
Every possible trade. Every mock draft. Every player ranking. All of these things are merely hypotheticals as we inch closer and closer to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Some people don’t like dealing with hypotheticals, and therefore ignore mock drafts and draft talk altogether until new Steelers are selected and then analyze what they bring to the table. I get that. I actually used to be that way before my BTSC days. But now, knowing about the possibilities with the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they could draft is an exciting part of the job which really brings a lot of enjoyment this time of year.
So let’s talk about and even more hypothetical situation: Draft day trades.
With some trades in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft already being completed, there are still plenty which will occur during the draft. Properly predicting them is almost impossible, but it is fun to speculate.
When it comes to trading in the draft, it’s all about a team’s draft capital, and if they are increasing their number of picks, or decreasing them by getting a higher selection.
In years past, the Pittsburgh Steelers have traded up in the first round of the NFL draft to get a player they desired. Sticking with the most recent example, the Steelers moved up 10 spots in the 2019 draft in order to select Devin Bush. By doing so, the Steelers surrendered a draft selection both in 2019 (second round) and in 2020 (third round).
With the Steelers having eight selections in the 2021 draft, they could attempt to trade up and give away some draft capital both from this year and next year. While going to get a player who they feel is highly coveted isn’t something I’m going to ridicule, there are plenty of fans who feel the Steelers need all their draft picks in order to help build the roster for 2021. In fact, a number of fans feel they need even more than eight picks to get the job done.
Looking at the Steelers current roster, they have 71 players under contract at this time. With a 90-man offseason roster, the Steelers have 19 spots available where they would not have to release a player. Obviously, the Steelers aren’t going to have 19 draft picks. But with the Steelers usually signing anywhere from 10 to 15 undrafted free agents, they are in pretty good shape with the number of draft picks they have simply from a numbers standpoint.
When looking at the Steelers roster, there are a few position groups where the Steelers definitely need to add bodies ahead of training camp. Additionally, there are some positions where the Steelers could really use an upgrade on their current depth chart. Are there enough picks in the 2021 NFL draft to do this? More than likely there are. So the Steelers could gain extra picks, but don’t have to gain extra picks.
With that being said, would there be any value in the Pittsburgh Steelers trading down in the 2021 NFL draft?
First of all, it should be noted that trading back in the first round is not something the Steelers do very often. In fact, the last time was in the 2001 draft where the Steelers traded back three positions with the New York Jets and still drafted Casey Hampton while picking up an additional fourth-round and sixth-round pick.
For me, when it comes to trading back, I would much rather see the Steelers use that capital to then increase their position in a different round. In fact, that’s exactly what the Steelers did in 2001.
By picking up an additional fourth round pick, the Steelers would have had back-to-back selections at the 111th and 112th position. Instead, the Steelers used their own fourth-round pick (the 112th selection) in order to trade up 11 spots in the second round with the New England Patriots in order to draft Kendrell Bell.
In summary, the 2001 Steelers moved back three selections in the first round and moved up 11 selections in the second round while gaining a sixth-round pick, along with technically gaining one spot in the fourth round.
Personally, if the Steelers were to trade back in the first round, I would love to see them use that move in order to gain a higher pick in the second or third round. While they could do it like 2001 and make two separate trades with two different franchises, how about this for a possible trade scenario for the Steelers?
How about the Steelers trade back eight picks in the first round with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then select at the 32nd spot. In return, Tampa sends Pittsburgh their second-round pick at number 64 in exchange for the Steelers 87th pick in round three. So by the Steelers losing eight spots in round one, they then gain 23 spots to move up into the end of round two. This would give the Steelers the 55th and the 64th pick in the second round. In order to make the trade a little more even, the Bucs might even have the throw in their fifth-round pick at selection 176.
Of course, the biggest wild card would be Tampa being interested in doing this deal. But I would much rather see the Steelers gain positions in the second and third round if they are going to lose positions in the first.
My ultimate point is while some Steelers fans feel the team would be better served trading back in order to take potential players at positions of need who may not be worthy of the 24th pick, I would be in favor of this if the Steelers used their added draft capital to then move up in the second day of the draft. The last time the Steelers traded down in 2001, they gave us a great outline of doing so. And while gaining capital and making the selections is great, moving up in the second round, or gaining an additional second-round pick, could possibly be better served for this season, and beyond.
What do you think? Were the Steelers to trade back, would you be happy with simply gaining additional picks to what they already have, or would you much rather see the Steelers improve their drafting position in the second or third rounds? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.