It seems like every year leading up to the NFL Draft, all of us fans are hoping that the Pittsburgh Steelers trade down in the first round and accumulate more picks. It seems like it would interest any team, let alone the Steelers, to be able to gain more draft picks and still get a solid player with their first selection. The only problem is that the Steelers hardly, if ever, trade their first round pick and in fact the team has only traded within the first round four times since 1990. In that span they have traded up twice in the first round to take S Troy Polamalu 2003 and WR Santonio Holmes 2006, and down twice to take NT Casey Hampton 2001 and TE Eric Green 1990.
Most of us see what teams like the New England Patriots have done in the draft, which is trade down almost every single year, and wonder why every team doesn’t use that strategy. The reality is that the Steelers are just very secure in their own scouting and confident that they are making the correct decision where they are picking. Fans and experts alike can say all they want that the talent at the top of the draft isn’t as good or that the depth in the second and third rounds is better however, if the Steelers know who they want they aren’t afraid to just take a guy at their current pick.
The Steelers have been known throughout the league as one of the better drafting teams in the NFL because of their propensity for hitting on their first round pick almost every year. Finding steals in the draft late is always great but a team has to make the right decision in the first round or they take a step back.
Just since that 1990 trade to select TE Eric Green the Steelers’ most notable first round selections have been:
Year Pick Player
1995 27 TE Mark Bruener
1997 24 CB Chad Scott
1998 26 G Alan Faneca
2000 08 WR Plaxico Burress
2001 19 NT Casey Hampton
2002 30 G Kendall Simmons
2003 16 S Troy Polamalu
2004 11 QB Ben Roethlisberger
2005 30 TE Heath Miller
2007 17 LB Lawrence Timmons
2010 18 C Maurkice Pouncey
This list doesn’t even include current players who can still prove their worth in DE Ziggy Hood 2009, DE Cameron Heyward 2011 and G David DeCastro 2012.
Obviously the team can’t be right on absolutely every pick, see RB Rashard Mendenhall 2008, however, the team has generally gotten it right in the past 15 or so years.
Personally, unless a top guy is available at 17 like Dion Jordan Oregon, Star Lotulelei Utah State, Chance Warmack Alabama or Jonathan Cooper North Carolina to name a few, I would trade back and gain more picks. Unfortunately for me, but great for the team, I do not make the decisions for the Pittsburgh Steelers and I am not privy to the information the team has on every player.
For all we know the Steelers may not rate any of the players I have listed here anywhere near the top of their list. I know that isn’t really likely however, none of us really know how the team is thinking. All I know is that I’m almost certain they won’t move from that 17th overall pick.
Past pick information from this Wikipedia page.