Todd McShay Says the Steelers May Trade Up in the First Round

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We've officially reached crunch time with the NFL Draft and rumors are swirling with the first round just two days away.  This is the time when it gets increasingly harder to decipher what is truth from what is a smokescreen.  Experts anticipate this to be one of the most chaotic drafts in recent memory with so many teams up in the air (seemingly) about what they intend to do with their first-round picks.  The Pittsburgh Steelers have been linked to an abundance of guys and that list seems to keep growing as these days dwindle down.

ESPN draft expert Todd McShay of ESPN added to the chaos by stating the Steelers were looking to move up in the first round via a trade.  On Monday, he said that the Steelers had been in contact with the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans about the possibility of trading for their either of their first-round picks.  The Bears have the ninth overall selection, while the Titans sit at eleventh.  The presumption around this, according to McShay, is that Steelers would do so to draft an offensive tackle.  

There are three top tackles in this class. At this time, it isn't expected that any of them will fall to the Steelers at pick 17.  They are Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr., who I've written about already, as well as Northwestern's Peter Skoronski and Georgia's Broderick Jones.  At the time I wrote about Johnson, it seemed like a decently-farfetched idea that the Steelers had a chance of getting any of these guys because of how coveted they are at the top of the draft.  

However, given that the Steelers' brass took Johnson out to dinner ahead of Ohio State's pro day, it felt pretty significant given the number of teams after him.  If this trade is as plausible as McShay makes it out to be, that dinner feels even more significant now and could be a sign of where the Steelers' front office heads are.

The team has made it pretty well known that they are doing everything they can to keep prized quarterback Kenny Pickett safe in the pocket.  It was no secret that the protection wasn't up to snuff last season and the team set out to improve it in the offseason by already signing offensive guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig.  With the interior line now set, it would appear they now have their sights set on the outside.  Tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor have left a lot to be desired, leaving the position a priority for upgrading.

The question comes down to at what cost would it take for the Steelers to move up and is it worth it?  These types of trades typically come at a pretty robust cost and they may not be the only teams looking to move up.  Would they be willing to pay a premium for one of these guys?  

I'm as far from an expert on the potential of these guys as it gets, but from the sounds of it, both Johnson and Skoronski have the caliber to make a big impact on an offensive line for years to come.  However, it feels like, more often than not, offensive linemen taken this high in the draft have not been worth the draft capital.  Factor in what it could cost the Steelers to move up and it is truly a big risk.

It must be mentioned once again that the Steelers also have a propensity to throw teams and the media off the scent of what they actually want to do.  We can't forget that the thought last year was the Steelers were set on drafting Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, only for them to take Pickett instead of him.  It's also not surprising to hear that teams drafting towards the bottom half of the first round are checking in with teams drafting at the top.  It's their due diligence to see what the asking price is and they'd be negligent not to, whether it's a realistic possibility or not.

I think the most surprising part of this news is that their intent of doing this would be to do so for an offensive tackle.  Obviously it makes sense from the standpoint of the team's needs and makeup.  It's just surprising given that up until now, the majority of the talk surrounding the Steelers revolved around selecting a cornerback, or even a defensive linemen.  An offensive lineman was always a possibility but not one that felt like it was worthy of moving up for.

Things are still shaking out and who knows what other news will break in the days, and even hours, leading up to their first-round pick on Thursday.  As always, be wary of what you're reading and who it is coming from.  All I know is, when it comes to the Steelers on draft day, you can never be too sure of what they are going to do. Therefore, it should be exciting to see what the team actually does come Thursday!