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Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 Potential Trade-Down Scenarios in 2014 NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t traded down in the first round of the NFL draft since 2001, when they took Casey Hampton with the No. 19 pick.

This could be the year they do it again.

The Steelers are more likely to trade down from the No. 15 pick than trade up. They don’t have their original third-round pick. They have a third-round compensatory pick , but those picks can’t be traded. So it would be difficult to put together a package to move up.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that the 2014 NFL draft is the deepest he’s seen in 30 years, according to NFL.com. However, he also said it’s an immature pool of prospects because of the record 102 underclassmen who came out.

Trading down in the first round would give the Steelers more picks in the later rounds and allow them to take better advantage of this draft’s depth. Furthermore, if these underclassmen are risky picks, more draft choices would give the Steelers more margin for error.

Here’s the thing, though. The Steelers aren’t the only team aware of this draft’s depth. A lot of teams will try to move down in the first round and accumulate picks later in the draft. The Steelers need to find a team enamored with one player who isn’t expected to be available in the second half of the first round.

Here’s a look at four possible trade-down partners for the Steelers, including the picks they’d likely get. The NFL draft pick trade value chart on Drafttek.com is used as a guide, even though many teams have their own chart.

Miami Dolphins, No. 19

Why the Dolphins would move up:

They need offensive linemen, even though they signed Branden Albert. Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013, more than any quarterback in the NFL. If Taylor Lewan falls past the Chicago Bears at No. 14, the Dolphins might give the Steelers a call and see what it takes to get the No. 15 pick so they can jump ahead of the Ravens, another team that needs offensive linemen, at No. 17.

What’s in it for the Steelers:

Fifty-one players will come off the board between the Steelers’ second-round pick, No. 46, and their third-round compensatory pick at No. 97. The Steelers could shorten that wait by acquiring the Dolphins’ third-rounder, No. 81 overall, in this hypothetical deal.

If they’re really sticklers for equal value, the Dolphins could ask for the Steelers’ sixth-round pick this year or a fifth-rounder next year. The Steelers have compensatory picks at the end of the fifth and sixth rounds. If they have to give up this year’s sixth-rounder, they’d still have nine picks in the draft, including four in the first three rounds.

Philadelphia Eagles, No. 22

Why the Eagles would move up:

Safety is among their needs, but that isn’t one of the deeper positions in this draft. There’s a big dropoff after Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor. The Cowboys at No .16 and the Ravens at No. 17 also could use a safety. Trading with the Steelers for the No. 15 pick would move the Eagles one spot ahead of their division rivals.

What’s in it for the Steelers:

The Eagles have only six picks this year, so they’d have to throw in a 2015 pick. A 2014 third-rounder (No. 86), a 2014 fourth-rounder (No. 122) and a third-rounder next year would be a fair price, assuming the point value for a third-rounder next year equals a fourth-rounder this year.

That would give the Steelers 11 picks in this draft, including six in the first four rounds. They haven’t had 11 picks in a draft since 1999.

Carolina Panthers, No. 28

Why the Panthers would move up:

Why not? The Steelers and Panthers have been intertwined throughout the offseason. The Steelers signed safety Mike Mitchell away from the Panthers, and the Panthers signed wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery away from the Steelers. The No. 15 spot, in front of the Cowboys and Ravens, is a sweet position for teams needing a safety.

The Panthers also lost Captain Munnerlyn and might want a shot at Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard. Despite signing Cotchery, they’re thin at receiver after losing Steve Smith and Ted Ginn. This is a deep draft for wide receivers, but if they want someone like Odell Beckham Jr. or Brandin Cooks, it would help them to move ahead of the receiver-needy Jets at No. 18.

What’s in it for the Steelers:

The Steelers could land the Panthers’ second-rounder (No. 60) and fourth-rounder (No. 128) this year and their third-rounder next year.

They’d have three picks in the first two rounds, which they haven’t had since they picked twice in the first round in 1989. Their first-round picks that year, running back Tim Worley and guard Tom Ricketts, didn’t pan out. But they did get Carnell Lake in the second round.

San Francisco 49ers, No. 30

Why the 49ers would move up:

They have their eye on Odell Beckham Jr., according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and with 11 picks, they can make a big climb up the board.

The 49ers don’t need all those picks. They’ve been to three straight NFC championship games without hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. One of their few missing pieces is a vertical threat at wide receiver who can complement Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Beckham averaged 19.6 yards per reception in 2013, so he can stretch the field.

If the Harbaugh brothers swing a deal, the 49ers could get the No. 17 pick from the Baltimore Ravens and cut in front of the New York Jets, who also need receivers, at No. 18. That might not be far enough, however. In our most recent mock draft, Beckham goes to the Steelers at No. 15.

What’s in it for the Steelers:

If the 49ers and Steelers both want Beckham, the Steelers hold the hammer. They could squeeze more out of the 49ers than the point value chart suggests. They can finagle a second-rounder (No. 61), a third-rounder (No. 94) and a fourth-rounder (No. 129). It’s going to cost the 49ers to move almost halfway through the first round.

In this scenario, the Steelers would have seven picks in the first four rounds for the first time since 1976 and 12 picks overall for the first time since the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994. They’d essentially be giving up Beckham for what they hope is the core of a group that brings them their seventh Super Bowl title.

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