Tim Benz: Steelers have good reasons to stay put in the draft. Should they trade up anyway? – TribLIVE

Tim Benz: Steelers have good reasons to stay put in the draft. Should they trade up anyway? – TribLIVE

When the NFL Draft rolls around in three weeks, the Steelers will not have a first-round pick.

Wait. Give it a second.

Hear it? It’s coming.

MINKAH! MINKAH! MINKAH! What about Minkah Fitzpatrick?! Minkah counts as the first-rounder in 2020! And he’s an All-Pro. MINKAH! MINKAH! MINKAH!

OK. Good. That’s out of the way. Now we can continue.

I wanted to save you pounding away on your keyboards in the comments section.

Yes. The Steelers got safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami last September for the 18th pick they would’ve had in the first round in 2020. And he proved to be worth the price that will be paid in a few weeks.

But that is a significant price to be paid. And now the bill is due.

That leads to a different question. Would Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert be willing to pay another price to get back into the first round by trading away future picks or current players?

“We’ll never say we won’t trade into any given round or trade out of one,” Colbert said during a conference call Tuesday. “I think it is highly unlikely that we could come up with any type of package that we could get back in the first round (this year).”

That’s leaning toward “no” then, Kevin?

It appears. Especially since the Steelers already gave up a 2020 third-round pick in the Devin Bush trade.

However, for a team who is so often willing to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to salary-cap management, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Steelers be aggressive on the trade front in advance of the first round on April 23 as well.

If not with an eye toward getting back into the late first round, maybe at least moving up in the second. Or adding a pick in the late second or earlier portion of the third round.

Colbert doesn’t seem to be putting as much of a priority on that approach because he thinks the 2020 college talent pool is deep.

“I’m not really concerned about getting back in (the first round) because there is good depth in this draft,” Colbert continued. “I feel good about who we can get in the second round or beyond.”

There’s another factor in Colbert’s thinking. Can you guess what it is?

Yup. The coronavirus. Just like everything else in the world as we know it, covid-19 is impacting NFL draft planning across the league.

Colbert made it sound like 2020 wouldn’t be the wisest year to mortgage much of the future to move up and get a prospect because of “the uncertainty of a player we might be taking, and not having all the information we’ve had in the past.”

Fair point from Colbert. With fewer pro days and fewer in-person meetings, this NFL draft is even less of a perfect science than normally is the case. So why roll the dice for an incoming rookie who is less of a sure thing?

That said, the 2020 Steelers could use help at running back, wide receiver, nose tackle, inside linebacker, outside linebacker and offensive line.

Players who can help this year. Not just practice-squad filler.

Right now, here’s what the Steelers have in terms of draft picks:

• Round 2, selection 49

• Round 3, selection 102 (compensatory)

• Round 4, selection 124

• Round 4, selection 135 (from Miami, from Tennessee)

• Round 6, selection 198

• Round 7, selection 232

In other words, just one pick in the first 100. It’d be nice to add at least one selection there. Not just for depth this year, but maybe for next year, because of the uncertain contract situations of Bud Dupree, Joe Haden, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva.

Based on what Colbert had to say Tuesday, I won’t be holding my breath and stomping my feet.

I’ll just be doing that anytime someone reminds me Fitzpatrick was acquired for the first-round pick.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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