Kevin Colbert has traded up in the first round twice.
The first time was to take Tory Polamalu in 2003.
The next time was to take Santonio Holmes in 2006.
Polamalu made the game changing play that sent the Steelers to Super Bowl XLVIII and Santonio Holmes caught the pass the won Lombardi Number Six for the Steelers.
Kevin Colbert also traded down in 2001, picking Casey Hampton, the nose tackle who provides the fulcrum upon which the Steelers 3-4 Zone Blitz defense swings.
With the Steelers sitting with the 31st pick with immediate need at corner back and impending need at offensive and defensive line, what should they do?
Colbert offered that there are “20 special players” in this draft and “100” that can help the Steelers.
Trading Up vs. Trading Down
Trading up gives the Steelers a shot at one of those “special 20.” But it brings with it the cost that they’ll get fewer of the 100, as Ed Bouchette pointed out in PG Plus.
Trading down on the other hand might give the Steelers chances to take 3-4 of the “100 that can help.”
Argument Against Trading Down
While arming themselves with more 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round picks sounds nice, one might consider Kevin Colbert’s record.
His first round picks are:
2000 Plaxico Burress
2001 Casey Hampton
2002 Kendall Simmons
2003 Troy Polamalu
2004 Ben Roethlisberger
2005 Heath Miller
2006 Santonio Holmes
2007 Lawrence Timmons
2008 Rashard Mendenhall
2009 Ziggy Hood
2010 Maurkice Pouncey
In the second round, Colbert has hit his share of success, think Marvel Smith, Randle El, and LaMarr Woodley.
But he’s also picked duds such as Alonzo Jackson, Ricardo Colclough, and until he proves otherwise, Limas Sweed.
A look at the Steelers third round picks reveals a similar mixed bag.
As for fourth round picks? Larry Foote and Willie Colon aside, the Steelers record there caused La Toalla Terrible to jest that a few years back that the Steelers might be better of forfeiting the pick.
Trust in the Steelers Brain Trust
The draft is already underway, and the Steelers brass have perhaps already discussed trades.
Allow me to take the easy way out, and simply say that there are pros and cons to each alternative, and I trust in Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II to make the right choice and select the right person.