I know what you’re thinking, Justin Fields to the Steelers is a pretty far fetched idea. The Ohio St. quarterback is easily a top five pick in this upcoming draft, placing him way out of reach for Kevin Colbert and company. But is he?
Recent events have had some people wonder if Justin Fields may be falling down the draft board. It is a foregone conclusion now that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will go one and two to open the draft. The San Francisco 49ers just traded up to number three overall. The prevailing theory from everyone across the league is that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wants to select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Miami draft next at slots four through seven. All of those teams appear to have their quarterback in place. Next up is the key spot. The Carolina Panthers own the eight pick overall, and have just acquired Sam Darnold to be their quarterback of the future. https://www.nfl.com/news/jets-trade-sam-darnold-to-panthers-for-three-draft-picks
This pick is now undoubtedly being shopped around by the Panthers. There is a very good chance that at least one, if not two of the top five quarterbacks in the draft could still be on the board at this point. If that’s the case, the Steelers would have to at least make the call to find out what it would take to jump to eight form twenty four. Here is some historical context for jumping that many spots in the draft:
1. Kansas City Chiefs trade pick 27, 2017 third round pick, 2018 first round pick to Buffalo to move up to pick 10 for Patrick Mahomes.
2. Houston Texans trade pick 25, and 2018 first round pick to move up to 12 for Deshaun Watson.
3. Buffalo Bills trade pick 12, and two second round picks to move up to 7 and select Josh Allen.
4. Steelers trade pick 20, a 2019 second round pick, and a 2020 third round pick for pick 10 and select Devin Bush.
Looking at recent history, the cost to move up from twenty four to eight will be in the ballpark of the Steelers first round pick, their third round pick, and a future first rounder. Pittsburgh may have to include a player in this deal as well. That doesn’t seem all that costly for the possibility of getting a franchise quarterback.
Now the question is whether or not the Steelers think Justin Fields is that guy. Fields is an outstanding athlete for the quarterback position having run a 4.4/40 yard dash at his pro-day. That kind of athleticism seems almost to be a requirement for quarterbacks in today’s NFL. Fields is also an excellent passer who has won several big games throughout his college career. Recent knocks on how he gets through his progressions have popped up in recent weeks. That seems overblown however when you watch him on tape.
Both Tomlin and Colbert attended the Ohio St. pro-day. In fact, Tomlin was reported to have had a long conversation with Fields that day.
So there is interest, and opportunity. That is two big hurdles cleared. We all know Kevin Colbert has not been shy in recent years when it comes to bold moves in the first round. He traded away a potentially very valuable first round pick to acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2020. As pointed out earlier, Colbert traded up ten spots to select Devin Bush in 2019 as well.
The chances of this actually happening are admittedly less than fifty percent. There will be other suitors for the Panthers pick including teams like Chicago, Washington, and New England. Then there’s the seemingly undying commitment the Steelers have with Ben Roethlisberger. Rumors now have the possibility of Big Ben playing past just this upcoming season. Even with all that said, there is enough smoke here to at least pay this close attention as we head closer to the draft. There may never be a better opportunity to get a quarterback the quality of Justin Fields for years to come.