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Everyone knows that the Steelers draft experts are great at hitting home runs in the first round. If you take a look at how the Steelers have fared so far this millennium, you will see many Pro-Bowlers, and some potential Hall of Famers.
2000 - Plaxico Burress. Had he not shot himself in the leg, and gone to jail because of it, the Giants would have been a considerably better team. Other than his off field issues, Burress was a great player between the lines.
2001 - Casey Hampton. The Big Man in the middle ties up blockers so the line backers can make the plays. Hampton is a force, and it shows by his Pro Bowl appearances.
2002 - Kendall Simmons. Had Simmons not had the health and injury issues that have derailed his career, he could have been an anchor like Alan Faneca was.
2003 - Troy Polamalu. If I even need to explain how important he is, you need to stop reading Steelers articles. He could be the best to ever play the game at safety. The first person in the history of the Steelers that they ever traded up for.
2005 - Heath Miller. The best tight end the Steelers have ever had. Drafting at the end of the first round, Miller fell to the Steelers, and has become one of the best in the business, going to his first Pro Bowl this year. Expect to see more out of him.
2006 - Santonio Holmes. Only the SECOND player the Steelers traded up for. He already has earned the Super Bowl MVP, and is becoming one of the top wide outs without an attitude in the NFL.
2007 - Lawrence Timmons. Pushed Larry Foote out the door with his play, and is becoming the first round stud the Steelers thought he would be when they drafted him. The first pick of the Mike Tomlin era is one of the hardest hitters in the NFL.
2008 - Rashard Mendenhall. Has earned the starters role. It took him two season, but has become the feature back, and is becoming worthy of the first round pick.
2009 - Evander "Ziggy" Hood. Showed at the end of his rookie season that he is understanding the system, and will be a force for the Steelers for years to come.
There is no question that the Steelers know how to draft in the first round. How many teams can say they have had the first round success that the Steelers have had? NONE.
This season is not like many other seasons. With the NFL CBA set to expire in less than a month, many of the college kids that were eligible to enter the NFL, are in fact doing so. Why?
1. Most people believe that if a new CBA is agreed to, there is going to be a rookie salary cap. They want to get in while they can still cash in.
2. If no CBA can be reached, players that enter the NFL next year, may be looking at a lock-out once they get drafted. That means that they will not be able to agree to a lower rookie deal as quick because of the league imposed lock-out.
Now, there is talk that the Steelers should trade up in the draft to select a Joe Hayden, or one of the top Offensive Tackle prospects. I disagree.
To trade up, would cost us at least our second round pick.
With the talent in this years draft, there will be first round talent in the second round, and second round talent in the third, and even third round talent in the fourth.
Trading up, would keep the Steelers from being able to stock up on quality players they need to further the depth on the team.
Here is my suggestion, trade DOWN.
Take our 18 pick, and trade back into the late 20's. We will still be able to pick up quality. Don't believe me? Of the people above, the only players the Steelers selected in the top half of the draft are Plaxico Burress (eight), Troy Polamalu (16), Ben Roethlisberger (11) and Lawrence Timmons (15).
On the contrary, the Steelers selected Kendall Simmons (30), Heath Miller (30), Santonio Holmes (25), Rashard Mendenhall (23) and Ziggy Hood (32) all late in the first round.
Why not trade back to get one of the players that will be available later in the first round, and pick up an additional second round pick?
To take things one step further, trade our 2011 first round pick to one of the teams in the top ten of the second round. This will give the Steelers a late first round pick, and three second round picks.
If the Steelers can pick up three, second round picks, even if they have the talent of what would normally be a late first to early second round talent, that would be a steal.
I know that the Steelers have never traded their first round pick away, but think about it. Players that are going to be in that draft are probably going to be missing out on any mini camps that they would normally attend due to the lock-out. And odds are, the Steelers first round draft pick next year is going to be in the later part of the round, hopefully 32.
That being said, we will get the same caliber player, a year earlier, for less money.
The question becomes, is someone like Joe Hayden worth the two other quality players the Steelers could draft? If we were to trade up, either or both of last years corners would become obsolete. Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett will both have the chance to compete for playing time, with Deshea Townsend probably done with the Steelers.
The plan for Lewis and Burnett was to move Lewis to the starting role opposite of Ike Taylor and Burnett would become the Nickel back.
This is a perfect opportunity for the Steelers to stock up on depth, get the quality players to learn the system, and save a bunch of money in the process.