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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Malibag: Should Pittsburgh Trade Down, Best OL Fit?

In the first Pittsburgh Steelers mailbag with Derrick Bell, we cover a variety of topics from the NFL Draft to team needs.



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Georgia OT Amarius Mims
Georgia OT Amarius Mims

We are just weeks away from the NFL Draft and I wanted to answer some questions from our readers and supporters of Steelers Now. There were lots of fun discussions about draft weekend, different prospects and trade scenarios which are always fun to hypothesize about. Without further ado, here we go!


Q: Who is our ideal trade partner (trading up or down) in the draft and what would the compensation look like?


A: This is a good question especially after we saw Steelers general manager Omar Khan work the board last year, making multiple trades. Seeing as they’re likely heading into draft weekend with two glaring needs at both center and wide receiver, it makes it difficult to predict a trade up. Centers don’t typically go in the first round as it is, and the organization has seemed to shift their attention to the day-two caliber playmakers, such as Ricky Pearsall and Xavier Legette.


In my opinion, trading down is more likely because it just makes more sense because of the reason above. They have serious holes and not enough current draft picks to upgrade all the spots that need fine-tuning. But it takes a trade partner to make things work. Bills general manager Brandon Beane has a history of being aggressive in the draft and it’s worth pondering if he’d be interested in targeting a receiver after trading away Stefon Diggs. A return could look something like picks #28 and #60 for the Steelers selections of #20 and #98, which works perfectly on the trade value chart.


Q: Which first round prospect provides most day-one value in this new wide-zone scheme: Jackson Powers-Johnson, Amarius Mims, J.C. Latham or Graham Barton?


A: I’m going to go with Jackson Powers-Johnson for this one with Graham Barton not too far behind. As of right now, the Steelers do not have anything resembling a starting caliber center on the roster and without one, their run game will not function and in turn, their offense will fail. So, finding one is extremely important. Powers-Johnson has very good movement skills for the position but they’re in rare territory when you factor in the fact that he’s 328 pounds. His explosiveness allows him to consistently hit his landmarks at the first level or climb to the backers but he also comes equipped with the finishing mentality all offensive line coaches crave.


Q: How would you feel about the WR room if the only addition was Xavier Legette or Javon Baker?


A: Pittsburgh hasn’t shown any public interest in Javon Baker so we can steer the bulk of this conversation in the other direction. From a talent perspective, I don’t know if there are many paths to where the room is better next season without Diontae Johnson than it was in 2023. However, I did warm up to the idea of Xavier Legette the more that I watched his film and he finished barely outside the top-10 of my rankings. His combination of density, leaping ability and straight-line speed make him an intriguing player to develop. Relying on a 23-year old rookie who is still raw in multiple areas is a scary proposition, but I can see the vision long-term and it seems like they’re building the roster knowing this isn’t going to be a position of strength anyways.


Q: Everyone thinks OT, OC and WR are the most obvious picks at 20. If Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell or Byron Murphy fell to 20 would you even consider it?

A: Just based on recent reports, it certainly seems like there’s a real possibility that they could take a cornerback in the first round. Since November, Terrion Arnold has been CB1 for me on my board but Quinyon Mitchell’s tape blew me away and I wouldn’t fault anyone for putting him in that spot. This is a premier position with multiple strong options so if this scenario were to come to fruition, I would absolutely consider it and I think that they would as well. Arnold makes a ton of sense when you consider the fact that he has inside/outside versatility and the Steelers have been cycling through veteran stop-gap options over the past several years. They did meet with Byron Murphy formally at the combine, and as much as I like his game (and fellow IDL Johnny Newton), I can’t see them spending a first-round selection there as of today.


Q: Do the Steelers draft Zach Frazier?


A: Every cycle, it seems like there is one really obvious name that seems to get linked to Pittsburgh in almost every mock draft and West Virginia center Zach Frazier is this year’s example of that. This isn’t just fan fiction, either. There’s been plenty of interest and the need is staring everyone right in the face. The wrestling background shows up on film, he’s strong, consistently playing with good pad level and brings a finishing mentality by mauling people to the turf. He tested like an average athlete, albeit just months removed from breaking his leg, but he doesn’t appear overwhelmingly athletic on film either which caps some of his upside. Round one is way too rich for my blood but if he’s there when they pick in the second round, he has the skill to talent to pay off that sort of investment.


Q: Who is your favorite A) trade up target, B) stay at 20 preference or C) trade back candidate?


A: These hypotheticals are always fun this time of year because the consensus board is ever-changing and we’re getting whispers about how the league views some of these players.


If the Steelers were to trade up for someone, my preference would be for a guy like OT Olu Fashanu from Penn State: 21-year old left tackles that have that athletic profile combined with nuance as a pass protector are insanely difficult to find. It seems like the buzz around him has cooled down a little bit. He’s not an impact player in the run game but the Steelers already have someone on the other side who projects to be that kind of player which makes this an intriguing pairing.


If Pittsburgh does indeed select at pick 20, Amarius Mims is one of the most likely names that they’ve target and it’s a big-swing type of move that I could get behind. Mims has exciting physical tools which make him a solid pass protector already, but he just needs more experience as well as some fortunate injury luck to go his way. He’s talented enough to end up as one of the five best players in this entire class and that reward outweighs the risk of him not being able to stay healthy or completely busting as a prospect.


If there’s a scenario where the Omar Khan could trade back and take Texas WR Adonai Mitchell while acquiring more draft capital to address other needs, that feels like a slam dunk process. Mitchell is the 4th ranked receiver on my board due to rare movement skills and separation ability, especially for his size. If they took him at #20, I wouldn’t bat an eye. The focus and effort concerns have become a major talking point in recent weeks, but they are valid when you watch his tape. However, the Steelers have drafted several receivers like this in the past and Mike Tomlin seems to get the most out of guys like this. Mitchell can get open at will and Pittsburgh is the place where he is most likely to hit his ceiling.