While the Pittsburgh Steelers holding the 17th overall draft pick is nice and all, the selection that stands to see the most activity is their pick at 32. Not because it’s at the end of the first round, which would be customary, but because it’s at the beginning of the second.
The first draft pick of round two is one of the most frequently flipped selections because of the fact that it comes after, in theory, all teams have had a selection, and because it comes a day later, giving teams the chance to reflect on what transpired.
Often enough, teams will identify one player that they didn’t expect to get out of the first round and whom they think would represent great value at the top of the second. In order to ensure they get that player, many will be willing to deal to move up to that top pick.
Steelers general manager Omar Khan is prepared for that. “I would expect that that’s definitely gonna happen”, he said from the podium of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday. And elsewhere he talked about his openness to considering all deals.
While Pittsburgh has three picks in the top 50, it’s notable that they don’t have any picks in the fifth and sixth rounds. They previously dealt the fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks in September 2021 in exchange for Ahkello Witherspoon. They have two seventh-round picks, having previously swapped their sixth for Malik Reed and a seventh with the Denver Broncos last September.
Given the long layover between the fourth and seventh rounds—probably the longest they’ve had in some time—it may well prove extra tempting for Khan to move back a bit at the top of the second to acquire extra draft capital.
The reason that they have the 32nd pick, of course, is because they traded wide receiver Chase Claypool last season just before the trade deadline to the Chicago Bears. The Bears ended up with the worst record in football.
“We always thought very highly of Chase, not only as a player but as a person, but we made the trade and it’s the first pick in the second round”, Khan said, acknowledging the great value that they felt Chicago’s selection would present.
It was reported that the Green Bay Packers also offered Pittsburgh a second-round pick for Claypool, but they opted for Chicago’s deal because they anticipated they would have a worse record. That was a less obvious analysis at the time than it looked in hindsight.
The Packers were 3-6 at the deadline, but finished 8-9. The Bears were also 3-6. But they didn’t win another game for the rest of the season.