Given the changes along the offensive line, a left tackle or left center could be a priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL draft.
Given that the 2020 Steelers were the last to end in a hurry, a returning workhorse with the 24th overall selection could win.
After losing starters to external linebackers and cornerbacks, these positions could be in play when this selection is announced on Thursday evening.
Just don’t ask General Manager Kevin Colbert to tilt his hand before presenting this selection to the league office.
“We are wide open,” said Colbert on Monday at a press conference before the draft. “We are not going to look at any position or group of positions. We will be open to everything and see where it leads. ”
The Steelers have eight tips in the three-day process, including five of the first 140 that Colbert highlighted during the meeting with the media.
Two years after trading 10 spots for linebacker Devin Bush, Colbert said it was “very doubtful” for the Steelers to advance in the first round, citing the “value” the organization places on the picks they make holds.
However, Colbert hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a back trade in the first round. The Steelers haven’t acted in the opening round for 20 years after losing three spots to 19th place and picking Casey Hampton. You also won picks in the fourth and sixth rounds of that trade.
“If we are not satisfied with what we see with the 24th election, we will act back,” said Colbert.
To trade back, the Steelers may have to negotiate with teams from their division. The Cleveland Browns hold choices No. 26, and the Baltimore Ravens hold choices No. 27 and 31.
“Do we want to do this with a division team? That wouldn’t be our preference, ”said Colbert. “But we’re not going to discount that completely.”
Colbert praised the depth of this design class along the offensive line that ran back, a wide receiver, a cornerback, and an inside and outside linebacker. That could give the Steelers plenty of options as their time approaches Thursday.
“If we like a player, we’ll take that player 95% of the time and not trade back,” coach Mike Tomlin said in a Steelers Nation Unite fan chat later Monday. “If we act back I like to do it with a 100% guarantee that we’ll get a player we like. … We will always value quality over quantity, but in a given year we may have to act back and achieve both. ”
Colbert said he wouldn’t hesitate to run back in the first round, although the NFL trend is to come back in later rounds. In 2020, the first return was not selected until the final selection of the first round.
“I don’t think you can ever underestimate the value of a quality player in any position and running back is no different,” he said. “I understand the game has changed. It’s a more horizontal game than a vertical game. … If you have a dynamic player in any position, that player should make a difference. Running back is no different. I think if you look at the Hall of Fame runners, most of these guys were ridden in high laps. ”
Prior to responding, Tomlin noted that April depth maps “mean nothing” and said Chuks Okorafor was ready to start the left tackle and Cam Sutton was the lead candidate to replace cornerback Steve Nelson.
The center is a position that is expected to be addressed at the start of drafting as Maurkice Pouncey retires.
“The middle position is unusually low this year,” said Colbert. “Usually there isn’t much in the centers in a particular design, but we feel good that there are quality centers in this design that are ready to run.”
Colbert said it was “absolutely” feasible for the Steelers to draft a quarterback, citing that three of the four on the list, including Ben Roethlisberger, are entering their final year of contracts. However, Tomlin praised the signing of former draft pick Dwayne Haskins in the first round shortly after the end of the season.
Haskins made 13 starts with Washington in his first two seasons before being released late in the season.
“We look forward to working with him, seeing his skills and helping him improve,” said Tomlin.
Joe Rutter is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Joe by email at email@example.com or on Twitter.