Pittsburgh Steelers: Sitting Still Is the Best Draft Strategy

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 21, 2009

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 17: Center Alex Mack #51 of the California Golden Bears hikes the ball during the game against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium November 17, 2007 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes were acquired when the Pittsburgh Steelers did something rare: moving up in the draft.

The Steelers have a history as one of the smartest drafting teams in the NFL.  Rarely do they get a first round bust or reach for a player too far ahead of his draft slot.  Mistakes happen, of course, but for the most part the Steelers' drafts are sound.

So what about this year?  Sitting with the 32nd pick in the first round, it might seem enticing to move up a bit and grab a bigger name or a player with higher talent.

But, as Mike Tomlin so appropriately stated in his most recent press conference, the team will not be enchanted by only names and talent.  The Steelers have several needs, but nothing that can't be addressed in their current draft slots.

Their best move is not to trade their picks to move up, but to sit right where they are at 32 and draft the best player available.  That player should also fit the team's needs.

Enter Alex Mack, center, from Cal. 

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Will he be there at 32?  Most draft pundits are saying so.  I'm believing them.  This draft, which lacks all over the place in star power, is relatively deep in the two line categories.

Mack is arguably the best available lineman that could potentially be on the board when the Steelers pick at 32.  Why bother moving up to nab the guy you wanted anyway.

No one but the Steelers' own draft gurus know who the team has targeted on their big board, but it's a safe bet that those players ranked highest are either offensive or defensive linemen.  It's also a safe bet that Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin wouldn't be blown away in surprise by the Mack suggestion.

If Mack's gone?  Well, then you have a few options.  They could trade out of the round.  It's a sure bet that someone will be sweating by then about whether they will get another shot at a coveted player. 

But where to move and who to talk to.

The Steelers likely wouldn't have to trade too far into the second round, so it's a safe bet it would only net them a late round pick and that second round pick.  Perhaps that's enticing, perhaps not. 

This isn't a deep draft class, so a late round pick probably won't hold the same value we've seen in years past.

Perhaps instead of trading the Steelers take another player high, but not at the top, of their board.  Vontae Davis from Illinois is another option likely to be sitting at 32, but he's not a Steelers-type player necessarily.  Still, he'd be a likely second choice from Tomlin and company.

If Mack is sitting at 32 waiting for a call, there's little doubt in my mind that the Steelers will nab him.  They won't trade up to nab a bigger name because no bigger names are really available to fit their needs.

If Mack already has someone else's hat on at 32, the Steelers will likely put out some feelers for trading back before selecting a Davis or another player. 

If a good defensive lineman like Everette Brown would fall, however, the Steelers would surely take him.  They aren't far away from having to replace two thirds of their defensive front three.

That probably won't happen, however, so I'd stick with the two original possibilities.  The safest bet is that they draft Mack, who should still be sitting with his cell phone in his hand when the Steelers are ready to call.

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