That move down (from 16th to 19th) netted them Casey Hampton as well as fourth- and sixth-round picks from the New York Jets. Even though this is a team that traditionally stands pat, it’d behoove them to explore a move out of the first round in this year’s draft.
For one, if consecutive .500 seasons are any indication, the Steelers are more than just a player or two away from a Super Bowl berth. Stockpiling young talent has always been the modus operandi in Pittsburgh and that’s a trend they’d like to get back to sooner than later.
Per ESPN's Scott Brown, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert seemed to concede as much in an interview last week when he spoke to the importance of drafting well.
And, while no formal announcement has been made, the Steelers are still at risk of losing a draft pick because of Mike Tomlin’s infamous sideline incident—making each draft pick they do retain all the more important.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock on conf call now... calls 2014 NFL draft class "deepest and best I’ve seen in 10 years" #Steelers— Ken Laird (@Ken_Laird) February 18, 2014
But perhaps the greatest reason as to why Pittsburgh should trade down lies in the depth of talent in this year’s draft class, particularly at positions of need for the Steelers.
The Steelers coveting a big wide receiver this offseason has been highly publicized. Fortunately for them, there’s a wealth of such players in this year’s draft.
Allen Robinson, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams and Brandon Coleman all stand at least 6’2” and most, if not all, of them could be had in the second round or later.
Defensively, there are some positions it would benefit the Steelers to shore up. And like with the wide receiver position, there does appear to be some viable candidates to aid in those efforts that should still be available after the first round.
At inside linebacker, C.J. Mosley looks to be a cut above the other players at his position. Moreover, Shayne Skov, Carl Bradford and Christian Jones all look like eventual starters at the professional level.
In the secondary, the Steelers are expected to add an influx of talent after starting three men over 30 in the back-half of their defense in 2013.
If that were the case, the 2014 draft would be a great place to look. Dion Bailey, Deone Bucannon, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Bradley Roby would all make for worthwhile additions.
While there’s obviously some merit to the Steelers trading down, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely likely. After all, it takes two to tango.
So, is there any legitimate trade partners for the Steelers in this year’s draft? Well, that’ll depend on who’s still on the board when the Steelers are on the clock.
However, seeing how teams have overvalued certain positions in recent years, it’s likely that an elite-level prospect will slip to the Steelers. Be it Mike Evans, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Mosley or Eric Ebron, there should be someone a team picking in the second half of the draft (or a team that’s already selected) has interest in.
What kind of package, then, could the Steelers receive for their 15th overall pick?
Well, according to this draft chart (via walterfootball.com), their first-round pick is worth 1,050 points, meaning a hopeful trade partner would need to offer a package valued at or close to that amount.
For example, if the Atlanta Falcons see Ebron as the potential replacement for Tony Gonzalez, they could offer the Steelers their 37th and 68th overall picks.
Those two picks have an approximate worth of 780 points, but picking near the top of each round would likely be deemed more valuable by a Steelers team currently without a third-round pick.
What route the Steelers choose to take in the 2014 NFL draft won’t be seen for a few more months, but it’s clear that this draft is a crucial one for the team’s chances moving forward.
And trading down just might make it a successful one as well.