2012 NFL Draft: 5 Players the Pittsburgh Steelers Could Trade Up For
The Pittsburgh Steelers usually do not make much noise on draft day, but if there is a player that they covet, they are not afraid to make a move.
Since Kevin Colbert took over the front office in 2000, the Steelers have traded first round draft picks three times.
Pittsburgh traded their first-round selection (No. 16) to the New York Jets for their first- (No. 19), fourth- (No. 111) and sixth-round (No. 181) choices as they were able to drop down three spots to draft Casey Hampton.
The Steelers traded up twice, including a major trade in 2003 when they sent their first- (No. 27), third- (No. 92) and sixth-round (No. 200) selections to Kansas City for their first-round (No. 16) pick to lock down Troy Polamalu.
Then in 2006 the Steelers traded their first- (No. 32), third- (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) for the New York Giants first-round (No. 25) selection to draft Santonio Holmes.
That is very good work by Colbert. The Steelers landed a franchise nose tackle that centered their defensive line for a decade, a potential Hall of Fame safety and a Super Bowl MVP wide receiver.
Pittsburgh needs to add young talent and could use all of their draft picks, but if a situation presents itself for the Steelers to move up in the draft to acquire a potential game-changer, they should jump on the chance.
Here are five players who the Steelers could trade up for if given the opportunity.
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Cordy Glenn is slotted to go somewhere in the neighborhood of when the Steelers select in the draft, but if they want to secure his services, they may want to trade up to no higher than the 20th slot.
It isn't often that a team would make a move like that for a guard, but the Steelers could use an upgrade and Glenn is mobile enough to pull and he would help solidify the left side of the line.
Glenn is a huge presence on the line who would be an instant upgrade over Doug Legursky and could step in as a rookie, which would allow Legursky to focus on a backup role.
Pittsburgh's pass- and run-blocking would be improved, and that would be a nice change of pace for the Steelers' offense.
Glenn could also move to tackle if needed, which is another benefit given Willie Colon's recent injury history.
The question, though, is whether Glenn will live up to the hype that he has been receiving. It would be a risky move to trade up for Glenn, but he would be an upgrade at left guard.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Pittsburgh is in a slight pinch at tackle this year with Marcus Gilbert moving to left tackle after playing on the right side as a rookie.
There was talk last year that this was the long-term plan for Gilbert, but he may have trouble against speed rushers while protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.
That leaves the Steelers with Willie Colon at right tackle. He is a solid option at the position, but has struggled through injuries the past two years and the Steelers cannot afford to lose him for another season.
Anyone at any time is at risk to a season-ending injury, but the concern over Colon should be elevated whether they are fluke injuries or not.
Pittsburgh can alleviate any concerns by moving up to secure Jonathan Martin if he falls to the early-20s in the draft.
Martin projects as a left tackle and has experience in Stanford’s pro-style offense. He is a very good run blocker and will need to work on pass protection, but he can be a franchise left tackle.
Drafting Martin would enable the Steelers to keep Gilbert at right tackle and they could shift Colon to guard, which would give Pittsburgh a solid line moving forward. A second- or third-round pick of a guard all of a sudden could help turn the line into a strength.
Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
For the longest time, Dontari Poe seemed to be a lock for the Steelers in the first round. Then he blew up at the combine, though it could be argued that he performed as expected.
Regardless, Poe had a lot of momentum which skyrocketed him up draft boards. That has since cooled and Poe is "falling" back to where he belongs. Even so, he could still be out of the Steelers' reach.
Poe has a long way to go before he develops, but it is his high ceiling that has teams excited.
Pittsburgh desperately needs a replacement for Casey Hampton, and Poe could be that and more. He is a force in the middle and would easily be able to command double-teams, as well as add an element of pass-rushing abilities.
Eleven years ago, the Steelers traded down to acquire the foundation of their defensive line. This year they may need to move up a couple of spots to get him.
An elite nose tackle helps make an elite 3-4 defense, and Poe can do just that for the Steelers, though it will take time and coaching.
Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
It is unlikely that Luke Kuechly will get past the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the 15th selection in the draft. If he does, Pittsburgh should consider making a move for him.
How far up should the Steelers consider moving? No higher than the late-teens. Even though Kuechly looks like one of the safest picks of the draft, it is easier to find an inside linebacker than other positions, and they cannot give up too much.
Kuechly was very productive in college, and his intangibles are top-notch, particularly when it comes to knowledge of the game and instincts.
Though he lacks speed, Kuechly would be a disciplined player playing next to the more athletic Lawrence Timmons.
Kuechly would be able to immediately step into the Steelers defense and have a very productive career.
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
There may not be a player that the Steelers could use more in this year’s draft than David DeCastro. He is a perfect fit for what the Steelers need on their offensive line, but figures to be gone in the first half of the draft.
For this reason, if he begins to slip into the mid- to late-teens, the Steelers should consider trading up. He can make that kind of impact for the offensive line.
DeCastro is one of the most technically sound offensive linemen in the draft, and he was part of an outstanding Stanford offensive line that protected Andrew Luck and paved the way to one of the nation’s best ground attacks.
Pittsburgh could plug him in at right or left guard, both in need of upgrades, but he would likely fit in best at left guard because of his ability to pull and block.
DeCastro could immediately step in next to Maurkice Pouncey and give the Steelers one of the best interior lines for the next decade.
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisG_FC