Steelers: Here’s how Pittsburgh can trade up for their QB of the future

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

It would serve the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade up from No. 24 to get themselves a quarterback.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to do better than reaching on former Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, they are going to have to trade up from No. 24 in the 2021 NFL Draft to get Ben Roethlisberger’s long-term successor.

For a minute there, it seemed like Alabama’s Mac Jones would be coming off the board around where the Steelers would be picking. However, Jones is apparently the apple of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s eye, and he may be the third player taken this spring. So with a quarterback expected to go one, two, three, the Steelers will have to move up to get their guy.

Pittsburgh Steelers need to trade up to draft Ben Roethlisberger’s successor

Since Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and BYU’s Zach Wilson likely heading to the New York Jets at No. 2, the draft really starts to get interesting at No. 3 with the 49ers, and especially with the Atlanta Falcons picking at No. 4. With San Francisco trading up to get a quarterback, the most valuable pick now belongs to the Falcons.

Atlanta is one of a few teams the Steelers could semi-realistically trade up to get Roethlisberger’s heir apparent. The Falcons have a new head coach and general manager in Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot, respectively. They also have a former NFL MVP under center in Matt Ryan. Atlanta could go quarterback, but Smith will want to work with Ryan, and Fontenot may go best player available.

While trading up from No. 24 to No. 4 is technically possible, Atlanta may not want to move down the draft board that far with so many glaring roster needs to address. Plus, are the Steelers willing to give up the farm to draft the fourth-best quarterback, whether that is Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance? Maybe Pittsburgh does not need to trade up as far?

The only team we know for certain will be taking a quarterback from picks No. 4 through No. 10 are the Carolina Panthers at No. 8. While Carolina would typically be a great potential trade partner with the Steelers, given that Panthers owner David Tepper used to be a Pittsburgh minority owner, the Steelers will have to make a deal with somebody else besides Carolina to get into the top 10.

The Cincinnati Bengals almost certainly won’t move off No. 5. They are going to take either Joe Burrow’s former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase to effectively replace A.J. Green at wide receiver, or take the best offensive tackle prospect in a generation in Penei Sewell out of Oregon. This leaves us with four potential trade partners picking near the top-10. Pittsburgh has some work to do.

Since the Denver Broncos are probably not sold on third-year pro Drew Lock, they could be in the market to draft a quarterback at No. 9. So let’s cross them off as a potential Steelers trade partner for a quarterback. That leaves us with the Miami Dolphins picking at No. 6, the Detroit Lions picking at No. 7, the Dallas Cowboys picking at No. 10 and the New York Giants picking at No. 11.

Dallas recently paid big money to Dak Prescott, so the Cowboys don’t need a quarterback. Getting to No. 10 likely means the Steelers are in a position to get one of the top five quarterbacks in this draft. New York needs about another six starts to figure out if Daniel Jones is the answer under center. Even with a great history between the two franchises, this is as low as the Steelers can go.

As for the Dolphins and the Lions, it feels Tua Tagovailoa and Jared Goff will get at least a year to prove they can be their teams’ starting quarterbacks before having to pivot. Miami has already traded twice inside of the top-12 this spring. New Lions general manager Brad Holmes made the blockbuster trade to acquire Goff and picks from the Los Angeles Rams for Matthew Stafford.

Overall, the Steelers have five teams they can trade with to move up to get a quarterback. Getting a pick in the No. 4 to No. 11 range should afford the Steelers the chance to draft Fields, Jones or Lance with that selection. Dallas feels like a great trade partner at No. 10. New York isn’t bad at No. 11. Atlanta is a reach at No. 4, but Miami and Detroit aren’t at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

The Steelers will have to leapfrog several teams, but if they want a quarterback, they can get one.

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