The Pittsburgh Steelers earned your benevolent dictator’s wrath with a trade up strategy that resulted with an abominable “F” grade. All teams start with an average “C” grade and then need to impress me in order to move up. The Steelers not only failed to impress me, they actively provoked me to anger.
Let’s get one thing clear up front – I’m not here to debate or project how good (or disappointing) Devin Bush is going to be. The NFL draft is only educated guesswork and not even Pittsburgh’s front office knows how good Bush will be. There are no guarantees in the draft. They are taking a massive gamble by trading up to No. 10 to get the young linebacker, sacrificing the No. 20 pick, No. 52, and a third round pick next year. My focus is on the value of draft picks, and having the three picks the Steelers gave up is far more valuable than they No. 10 selection they got in return. As I state in Article 5 of Trade Down Island’s Glorious Constitution, “If you trust your GM and scouts to nail No. 10, you should also trust them to nail No. 15.” The same logic holds for teams like the Steelers who moved from No. 20 to No. 10. If the Pittsburgh brass trusts their scouts and their GM enough to “know” Devin Bush is going to be a stud, then they should also be trusted to find starters at No. 20, No. 52, and a future third round pick!
The Steelers are obviously gambling that Devin Bush will become a perennial Pro Bowler, and he needs to be in order to justify the draft capital they gave up to get him. At a high level, more Pro Bowl caliber players get drafted at No. 10 than at No. 20, but there is still incredible value left at No. 20. Per Football Reference, over the last 15 years (2004-2018) a total of five players drafted at No. 10 have made the Pro Bowl – Todd Gurley, Stephon Gilmore, Jerod Mayo, Eric Ebron, and Patrick Mahomes. On the flip side, three players drafted at No. 20 has made the Pro Bowl – Tamba Hali, Aqib Talib, and Kyle Long. So, yes, there is a better chance of landing a Pro Bowler at No. 10 versus No. 20, but that’s not rocket science.
But here’s what else we learn about the differences between No. 10 and No. 20 from Football Reference. The 15 players drafted at No. 10 were listed as “starters” for a combined 59 seasons. Guess what? The players drafted at No. 20 were listed as “starters” for a combined 70 seasons! The same holds true with Career Approximate Value with the No. 20 picks outperforming the No. 10 picks with a combined 474 to 416. While those aren’t perfect measures, there is some evidence that in recent NFL history the No. 20 picks have outperformed the No. 10 picks. Again – the draft is educated guesswork, so the more early round guesses the better!
Now, if Devin Bush develops into the next Luke Kuechly (No. 9 overall in 2012) then the Steelers have absolutely made the right move with this trade. You should never, ever let the next Luke Kuechly slide through your fingers over a second and third round pick. The risk, of course, is Devin Bush could also turn into the next Keith Rivers (No. 9, 2008) or Ernie Sims (No. 9, 2006). If that’s the case then this trade is a abject failure.
This is one of the trades that most interests your benevolent dictator. I will closely monitor this trade over the next four years to see if Devin Bush by himself is more valuable than Noah Fant, Drew Sample, and whatever becomes of the 2020 third rounder they traded away. Not surprisingly, I’m betting against Pittsburgh. Prove me wrong, Steelers!
Overall the Steelers net trade rating is a -120 based on the Dallas Draft Value Chart, meaning they gave up significantly more draft capital than they got back in return. Your dictator concurs.