Steelers Formula for Ranking Players, Trading Back in NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a plan in place when deciding whether or not to move in the NFL Draft.
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PITTSBURGH -- On Monday, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert gave some insight into how the team will go about deciding whether or not to stick with the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

For starters, Colbert said the team is "doubtful" to trade up in the opening round on Thursday. That being said, he didn't rule out the possibility of sliding back from pick 24 if the right players are still available. 

"We're always going to value quality over quantity, but if we're not comfortable with what we're looking at with the 24th pick, we'll trade back," Colbert said. "Do we want to do it with a conference team? That wouldn't be our preference, but we won't discount that completely, because we have to weigh what that potential trade back will do for us and not worry about where those picks may go." 

Behind the Steelers' first-round pick sits the Cleveland Browns (pick 26) and Baltimore Ravens (pick 27). Of the eight picks behind Pittsburgh are five AFC teams. 

The Steelers won't move without thinking out their process first. Colbert explained how he, Tomlin and the rest of the organization go about creating their first-round list of players, spending Wednesday, the day before the draft, creating their list of potential prospects. 

"We don't care. We never worry about what the folks in front of us will do," Colbert said. "We used to do the mock drafts and it was a complete waste of time."

Instead, the Steelers spend the day before the draft creating the "list."

"We just mock ourselves," Colbert explained. "We're picking first and we're going to pick a player. Okay, he's gone. We're picking second. Okay, he's gone, we're picking third. And when we're done with this process, and it'll take the good part of the day on Wednesday, when we're done with that, we'll have 24 guys in an order that we would take them, and it's not necessarily the order that you have on your board. 

"So the order of the picks is set and you just wait and watch, and the only decision you have to make is whether you're going to trade up or trade back. It doesn't matter what happens in front of you because you've already made that decision."

The Steelers will then use that "mock" to determine if they're willing to trade down. 

"What are we getting? How many picks? We've got to look at what we're walking away from. Say we're trading back five spots, I want five players that we would be comfortable taking so we can't lose."

And if the value is there, Pittsburgh is a team to consider moving. If it's not, and they believe there's a better player than they imagined at No. 24, they'll stay. Which, as of right now, feels like their plan. 

"We really value those eight picks that we have," Colbert said. "Five of which are in the top 140."

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.