Rumors began to surface on Tuesday that your Pittsburgh Steelers had contacted the Chicago Bears about possibly trading up to the ninth spot of the 2023 NFL Draft.
As far as I can tell through my own research, this rumor was started by a man who writes for Windy City Gridiron, which is part of the SB Nation family of NFL sites. In other words, it would be like if I had nearly 11,000 Twitter followers and started a rumor that took off. (Seriously, why can’t I gain more Twitter followers? Don’t you like great writing?)
This rumor was mostly met with tears and angst by Steelers fans, and I can certainly see why. After all, Pittsburgh has a plethora of premium picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft—including one pick in the first round (17th, overall); two picks in the second round (32nd and 49th, overall); and one pick in the third round (80th, overall).
In terms of Steelers fan fantasies, having four of the top 80 picks in any draft has to be up there with witnessing a Super Bowl victory in person, playing electric guitar on Renegade, personally firing Mike Tomlin, and riding the Raging Rapids with Jack Lambert.
Trading up in the draft—specifically into the top 10—would obviously require the Steelers to give up some of those premium picks (maybe even half of them, plus some future premium draft choices).
There are a few reasons why this might be a bad idea.
Number one, that would cause the fans to miss out on at least two of the dopamine hits that often accompany the anticipation of draft picks but especially premium draft picks.
Number two, is there any prospect who plays a position of need—as it pertains to the Steelers in 2023, the two biggest appear to be cornerback and offensive tackle—who would warrant such a bold move? Unlike 2019, when it was obvious that there were only two game-changing inside linebackers in that year’s NFL Draft (turned out, there was only one, but we didn’t know it at the time), there appear to be plenty of damn-fine cornerback and offensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft.
In other words, Pittsburgh should have a good-to-great shot at drafting a first-round prospect from the pool of players at one or both positions of need.
Number three, the Steelers, a team that missed the playoffs by a mere game in 2022, have a chance to add four premium draft picks to their relatively young roster. While the NFL Draft is the ultimate crapshoot, you certainly increase your chances of finding a good player when you pick him in the first three rounds.
I like where the Steelers are positioned as they head into the 2023 NFL Draft.
That’s why I also think they should abstain from trading down.
I can’t believe how much I’ve seen that sentiment thrown around in recent weeks.
Why do that? Because Pittsburgh doesn’t have any picks in the fifth and sixth rounds? Who cares?
The Steelers have seven selections in this draft; to repeat: Four of them are of the premium variety. It’s like what Bruno Mars said about 24K Magic, a nine-track album he released in 2016: “If I couldn’t get’em with nine, I wasn’t going to get’em with 16.”
The Steelers need to stand pat with their first four picks and try to increase their chances of finding players who can improve their fortunes moving forward.
What are the odds of them finding an impact player, or even a fine role player, in the fifth or sixth round? Not great. Sure, you’d get to enjoy another dopamine hit while anticipating this pick. You could also do many podcasts and write countless articles about him, but that player would more than likely be Quincy Roche in the end.
Finally, the Steelers find themselves in the best draft position they’ve held in years.
They have a chance to make a promising team even better.
No need to be aggressive. No need to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.
The Steelers should stay right where they are in the 2023 NFL Draft and let the chips fall where they may.