The NFL draft is hard enough to predict on its own with a mock, but it is an even harder task when one begins to throw the idea of trades around. While every draft sees a plethora of trades occur, they are rarely seen coming until the pick is on the clock. When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, draft day trades are a rarer occurrence. In the Colbert era, first round trades have been almost non-existent, with only three occurring in that time (trade back for Casey “Big Snack” Hampton, trade up for Troy Polamalu, and a trade up for Santonio Holmes). The last time the Steelers have made an actual draft day trade was in 2013 when they traded a 2014 3rd for the Browns 2013 4th in order to select Shamarko Thomas, while in the year before they traded their 4th and 6th round pick to the Redskins to move up in the 4th to draft DT Alameda Ta’amu. To say the least, draft day trades are a rare occurrence for the Steelers. In this mock though, we are changing all that. In a future installment, I’ll do one of these for trading back, but for now, in this mock, I will have the Steelers trading up for three of their picks. So, without further adu, the Detroit Lions are on the clock.
Round 1 (TRADE): Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia- So first off, the Steelers trade up with the Detroit Lions, who are in favor of moving back and targeting a RB. The Steelers send their 1st, 3rd and 5th in exchange of the 20th overall pick. The reasoning is valid, as Smith seems like a good starter (although I’m not as high on him as most). Smith seems like he has a high floor and low ceiling, pretty much a CJ Mosley light. That isn’t a bad thing, as the Steelers could use some consistency with their ILBs. Of course, I’m projecting him to fall a little bit, but there isn’t a chance the Steelers trade up unless the value is too good to pass up. I really wanted to mock Derwin James as the trade target, but it seems unlikely he falls out of the top ten. Smith, on the other hand, has a better chance to fall into a tradeable range. LVE is rising up draft boards and could pass him, and it seems as if Oakland has a crush on Evans from Alabama. This could lead to Smith falling farther than expected. I don’t agree with this trade, but Smith would be a solid addition to the core.
Round 2 (TRADE): Justin Reid, S, Stanford- Again, the Steelers trade up, this time with Chicago (because they are a team toward the back first ten of the second round). In this trade, we send our 2nd, 4th next year, and JJ Wilcox for their 2nd. This time, we go after our future starting safety. Reid is a very well rounded player with great athleticism. What draws the Steelers to him is his coverage ability, something they are lacking with their safety play. Burnett is a great in the box player, while Davis has more athletic ability but his coverage ability is questionable. Reid would be an ideal safety to play obvious passing downs. If he develops as expected, he and Davis can be a solid duo a few years from now.
Round 5: Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee- This is why trading up is usually a bad idea. While this scenario is an extreme, the Steelers are already drained of resources with needs still not met. This pick is completely up in the air in terms of who would be picked, but the team has shown clear interest in James, and are in need of a new slot receiver. While this pick doesn’t move, it gives us another late round receiver to develop.
Round 6 (TRADE): Mike Love, OLB, USF- Easy trade, the Steelers send their later 7th and Coty Sensabaugh to move up into the middle of the 6th (no direct team). Sensabaugh isn’t going to get much playing time with the top 4 CBs already set. While his contract isn’t unfair, he just doesn’t have a spot, especially considering Allen can easily serve as the #5 CB. He is solid depth, so moving up ¾ of a round for him seems like a realistic deal. Moving on to the pick, the Steelers really need to have added an OLB before now, but Love is an interesting prospect. He has good size and a lot of burst. He seems like a good developmental prospect with backup potential.
Round 7: Poona Ford, NT, Texas- This may be my favorite pick of this mock. If Ford was another two-three inches taller, he would be a possible day two or early day three pick. His 5’11 stature is a notable limitation, which causes him to fall to the seventh. That all being said, if he adds some more weight to his frame, he can be a good rotational run stopper. He has above average athleticism for his position, and has shown good strength while at Texas. He will likely never be a starter, but if he learns the system, could easily see 10-15 snaps a game as a situational run stuffer. He doesn’t need sacks, and he doesn’t really need tackles; if he can just collapse the middle and take on double teams for the few plays he is in on, he will instantly be worth the pick.
While I like the fact the Steelers got some star power in this draft, at the end of the day, they still have way too many needs on the board. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!