Pittsburgh has moved down in the draft often, but when they find a player they fall in love with there isn’t much hesitation to move up for him. It is unlikely that this is a year where they’ll move up though as the elite players in this draft aren’t need positions and don’t necessarily fit the scheme. If it did happen though, linebacker Khalil Mack would be a stellar choice.
While not the most pressing need, a star linebacker would be nice for the Steelers to have. Linebackers are some of the most versatile players on the field, and Mack is even more versatile than most linebackers. With the ability to play both inside and outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, Mack could be a great choice to complement Lawrence Timmons in the middle and would give the Steelers one of the best linebacker units in the league along with Jason Worilds and last year’s first round pick Jarvis Jones.
Just because it’s unlikely they’ll move up though doesn’t mean they won’t consider moving down. In a draft this deep, especially at the wide receiver position, the Steelers would love to be able to stockpile a few more picks if the top players on their board are gone at No. 15.
Possible trade partners range from the Cleveland Browns (who own Indianapolis’ pick at 26) to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 30. Both teams have a plethora of picks and are looking for superstar/impact players in this draft.
A popular choice for the Steelers to pick at No. 15 has been Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU. If the Steelers were going to pick him then they would likely explore trade options first. Johnny Manziel could still be there and the Browns or even the Houston Texans may want him, giving the Steelers nice leverage to unload the pick for the right price.
Beckham is good, but the drop-off from him to other receivers such as Jordan Matthews or Cody Latimer isn’t enough to warrant the 15th pick. Given the choice between Beckham and either of the two other receivers plus extra picks in a draft Kevin Colbert himself called “as deep across the board as any draft I’ve seen in 30 years” I believe the Steelers will choose the extra picks every time.
I believe that if Darqueze Dennard, Eric Ebron and Taylor Lewan are all gone by the time the Steelers make their first pick then a trade down in the draft is very possible. The Steelers have excellent leverage at No. 15 with teams wanting a shot at the QBs that aren’t quite talented enough to crack the top 10 in a strong draft but are too talented to fall into the mid-20s.