Steelers won't trade up, but could move down in this week's NFL draft
It appears evident the Steelers will draft a cornerback and a wide receiver early during the three-day NFL Draft that starts Thursday.
They won't trade up in the first round, but general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday that trading down is a “real possibility” to add extra picks or reshuffle the nine picks the Steelers own in what Colbert continues to say is the deepest draft class he can remember in his 30 years in pro football.
The draft pool is deep enough at the apparent positions of greatest need that it required more study, debate and analysis than in the past, Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin said.
“It created a lot of interesting and exciting discussions. We had to spend more time on the receivers and the cornerbacks, especially the receivers, because there are so many. We kept looking at ourselves and said, ‘This is really great,' ” Colbert said. “There were a lot of discussions about the big guys versus the small guys, the return capable guys. … And the cornerbacks weren't far behind.”
“It makes it (the evaluation process) a little more complex but makes it an interesting process,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers' ability to trade up is hindered because they don't have a third-round pick to deal after trading it to Cleveland to draft safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round last year. They own a compensation pick at the end of that round that can't be dealt.
If they stay at No. 15, Colbert said, only certain positions are a possibility, but any player at any position is possible should the Steelers move down.
They also need immediate help at inside linebacker and the defensive line.
“You never pass up a quality guy with the hope that you are going to get something else in the sixth round,” Colbert said. “You'd better take the player you like when you have the opportunity to take him.”
With a record 98 underclassmen helping make this draft class exceptionally deep, Colbert said the quarterbacks — Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr top the group — are “the linchpin” in determining how it all plays out.
“I think if you polled all 32 teams, they'd probably have the quarterbacks rated differently. … I think that's the one thing that could really trigger the trade up or trade down because, in all honesty, there's a lot of depth at the other positions, and it might preclude teams from trading up,” Colbert said.
To the Steelers, any of 19 players would be acceptable at No. 15, a position that might yield a player who would have gone as high as No. 7 or No. 8 in the past, Colbert said.
“I think in Round 2, we are getting a guy that maybe we would have taken in Round 1 before … and so on and so forth,” Colbert said. “It is deep. We are excited about it.”