Upon Review, Trade-Up Makes Perfect Sense

After giving it some thought, SCI publisher Jim Wexell thinks that trading up for Mike Pouncey makes perfect sense for the Steelers.

At the combine back in February, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said that his team would NOT benefit more than any other team by drafting Mike Pouncey and lining him up next to his twin brother Maurkice.

I didn't buy it.

Colbert also said that he thinks Mike Pouncey can start at center in the NFL, in spite of the awkward stance he developed to stop the fumbled exchanges, and in spite of the way he whistles every shotgun snap back to his quarterback like he's Randy Johnson pitching to John Kruk in an All-Star game.

So, I didn't buy that either.

Not that Colbert was lying, or attempting to be evasive. It's just my personal opinion that if Pouncey were to be drafted in the first round, it would be to start at guard only. And that if he were drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, they would benefit from the pairing the way the Florida Gators benefited from having two aggressive, nasty, physical, like-minded linemen playing side by side for two ultra-successful seasons.

If you don't believe me, ask Tim Tebow. He won a Heisman Trophy by repeatedly dashing up the middle, seemingly at will, between the two interior studs.

That's why, upon further review, I give credence to a recent report from Jason La Canfora that the Steelers will try to trade up to draft Mike Pouncey on Thursday night.

At first my knee-jerk reaction was this: You don't trade up for a guard.

But let's break it down a bit. What are the Steelers hoping to draft with pick 31? Well, they could get lucky and have 3-4 end Cameron Heyward fall to them. Or, they could get lucky and have a legitimate pass-blocking left tackle such as Derek Sherrod fall to them. Or, they could draft cornerback Aaron Williams and hope that he's really not a safety in disguise. Or they could draft Danny Watkins and hope the 27-year-old rookie guard finds his way to the fountain of youth and actually stays with the team through two contracts.

All of those options involve risk and/or luck, so it's possible the Steelers could be left empty-handed and looking at a last option such as Akeem Ayers, and then having to answer questions about why they drafted someone so slow and un-athletic.

In 2003, after a day or two of reports that the Steelers would attempt to trade up for Troy Polamalu, they did in fact move up 11 spots to draft the soon-to-be superstar. It cost them only their third and sixth-round picks to make the jump.

This year, the Steelers' most likely trading partner is Tampa Bay, exactly 11 spots ahead of them. What the Steelers would gain is a starter at one of their two weakest positions (right or left guard). What they would lose would be one of the last picks in the third round and one of the last picks in the sixth. Heck, I'd even boost that second pick to a fifth-rounder.

So the Steelers would fill a huge weakness and they'd still have their second-round pick to draft a cornerback such as Curtis Brown, or if they're lucky maybe Brandon Harris or Ras-I Dowling.

They'd also have their fourth-round pick for a developmental nose tackle such as Anthony Gray, and they'd have their sixth and seventh-round picks to draft whomever might fall their way, such as ILB Mario Harvey, OLB Jeremy Beal, RB Noel Devine, or S Davon Morgan, to name a few.

Of course, the Steelers would be forced to find their young defensive end next year. And they'd lose their leverage in the forthcoming Ike Taylor negotiations and probably have to give him more than they'd like. But as for the other positions, the Steelers really do have all the offensive tackles they need, and they really don't need those sprinter-type running backs they've been looking at because most of them are rampant fumblers.

What they would have is a pair of kick-ass twins in the middle of their line who'll be finishing blocks and infuriating defenders a la Hines Ward for the next 10-12 years. And Mike is as passionate about the game as his brother, and that passion would certainly be enhanced by a reunion; so, too, would the overall chemistry of the line.

Yeah, on second thought, and after months of wavering without a true and viable target at pick 31, I like this idea quite a bit.

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