Proposed Trade Lands Steelers Dominant Rookie Defender

Mike Tomlin

Getty A proposed trade from Bleacher Report sent head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers an elite rookie defender.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have executed a draft day trade involving their first-round pick just one time since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007. But Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey views a trade up the draft board on the first night of the draft a distinct possibility for the Steelers this year.

Tansey presented three spots where the Steelers could move up in the first round. The most intriguing of those three scenarios had Tomlin’s team jumping nine spots to No. 8 overall.

“Atlanta does not appear to be in the quarterback market,” Tansey wrote. “Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith confirmed on Tuesday that the team is going forward with Desmond Ridder as its starter, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Of course, the Falcons’ quarterback plans could always change, but for now, they could be an ideal trade partner for anyone beneath them in the first-round order because of their situation.”

To acquire the No. 8 pick, Tansey proposed the Steelers ship their No. 17 pick, along with the team’s third and fourth-round picks this year, to the Falcons.

Tansey listed several star college defenders the Steelers could be interested in drafting if they traded up to No. 8.

Steelers to Target Cornerback or Defensive Lineman With Move up in First Round?

New Steelers general manager Omar Khan has been aggressive at addressing the team’s needs in NFL free agency. But the team could still use a starting cornerback and depth along the defensive line.

Those were the two position groups Tansey proposed the Steelers target if they moved up to No. 8.

“Will Anderson will most likely be gone, but what if Tyree Walker of Jalen Carter drops to No. 8? The Steelers could make a run at the best player available on their board,” wrote Tansey.

“There could also be a push to No. 8 to land Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez or Joey Porter Jr. at cornerback. That is one of the Steelers’ biggest needs, and they could jump other corner-needy teams, like the Philadelphia Eagles, to get their pick of the best defensive backs.”

Pro Football Focus regards Carter as the best non-quarterback player available in the 2023 draft class. PFF described his pre-draft process as “nightmarish,” which could cause him to drop out of the top five, but his talent is obvious.

Walker is another top-ranked defensive lineman in the class. The consensus draft rankings at ESPN have Walker ranked ahead of Carter at No. 4 overall. ESPN has dropped Carter to No. 13.

The Steelers have also been linked to Witherspoon, Gonzalez and Porter in mock drafts this offseason. But all three could be gone before Pittsburgh’s first choice at No. 17.

Steelers to be in ‘No-Man’s-Land’ at No. 17?

The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly described the conundrum the Steelers could find themselves in on the first night of the draft.

“The NFL Draft is still a month away but the reality of the situation is that the Steelers are in real danger of finding themselves in no-man’s-land once the 17th pick is on the clock,” Kaboly wrote. “It’s a real possibility that all the top 17-worthy players the Steelers are believed to be interested in are off the board.”

If the Steelers limit their interests to the three top cornerbacks, Walker and Carter, then they might not have a player they love available for them at No. 17. Even the top offensive tackles, which is another need for Pittsburgh, could be off the board.

With that in mind, rumors that the Steelers are interested in acquiring a higher pick in the first round appear to be heating up.

Other than No. 8, Tansey proposed the Steelers could trade for picks No. 10 or No. 13. The Eagles and New York Jets, respectively, own those selections.

Tansey suggested it would take Pittsburgh’s No. 17 choice and at least a third-round pick to pull off either of those trades.

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