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Steelers First-Round Draft Pick Trade History

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Steelers GM Omar Khan Salary Cap Draft Trade
Pittsburgh Steelers General Manger Omar Khan after his introductory press conference at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Friday, May 27, 2022.

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan made waves while running the first draft of his career in 2023, making one trade after another to jet the Steelers around the board in what was largely regarded as an excellent first draft class.

Those trades included a swap in the first round, with the Steelers moving up three spots to leapfrog the New York Jets and land tackle Broderick Jones.

With Pittsburgh holding the No. 20 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft this Thursday, will Khan again make a move? He left the door open, but Khan said that he would have a hard time trading down with a good player staring him in the face on draft day.

“In my opinion, you never trade away from a good player. But obviously, if there‘s ever a scenario where it makes sense for both sides, it’s something we will look at,” Khan said. “We’ll listen.”

That stance makes sense. Khan is new to being a general manager, but he spent the previous two decades as one of Kevin Colbert’s top lieutenants in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers do not have a long history of trading down in the first round.

Here’s the full breakdown of each time Khan or Colbert made a trade involving the Steelers’ first-round pick, they players they could have had instead and how it worked out for both sides:

22 October 2006: Pittsburgh Steelers NT Casey Hampton (98) celebrates after making a tackle in the Atlanta Falcons 41-38 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia.

2001

Original pick: No. 16
Traded: Down to No. 19 with New York Jets
Player selected: NT Casey Hampton
Player taken at original slot: WR Santana Moss
Also acquired in trade: 2001 4th Rd No. 111 (OT Mathias Nkwenti), 2001 6th Rd No. 181 (DL Rodney Bailey)
Players taken in between: OG Steve Hutchinson (Seattle), OT Jeff Backus (Detroit)

Evaluation: Moss was a very talented player, but the Steelers filled a huge need with a player that became a franchise icon. It’s hard to imagine the Steelers winning Super Bowls in the 2000s without Casey Hampton.

Pittsburgh Steelers SS Troy Polamalu Draft Trade

Oct. 2, 2011 – Houston, Texas, U.S – Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (43) on the bench waits for the defense to take the field. Houston Texans beat he Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 at Reliant Stadium in Houston Texas

2003

Original pick: No. 27
Traded: Up to No. 16 with Kansas City
Player selected: SS Troy Polamalu
Player taken at original slot: RB Larry Johnson
Also given up in trade: 2003 3rd Rd No. 92 (DB Julian Battle), 2003 6th Rd No. 200 (QB Brooks Bollinger)

Players taken in between: WR Bryant Johnson (Arizona), LB Calvin Pace (Arizona), QB Kyle Boller (Baltimore), OT George Foster (Denver), C Jeff Faine (Cleveland), QB Rex Grossman (Chicago), RB Willis McGahee (Buffalo), TE Dallas Clark (Indianapolis), William Joseph (NY Giants), Kwame Jarris (San Francisco)

Evaluation: With due respect to Clark and McGahee, look at the pile of crap the Steelers leap-frogged to take the best player in the entire draft at No. 16 overall. This trade might be among the most underrated draft-day moves of all time. The Steelers won two Super Bowls with Polamalu and he’s now in the Hall of Fame. Johnson was a nice back for Kansas City, but they did nothing with the other two picks to justify moving down.

October 25 2009: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) carries the ball. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 27 to 17 at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

2006

Original pick: No. 32
Traded: Up to No. 25 with New York Giants
Player selected: WR Santonio Holmes
Player taken at original slot: DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Also given up in trade: 2006 3rd Rd No. 96 (LB Gerris Wilkinson), 2006 4th Rd No. 129 (OT Guy Whimper)
Players taken in between: DT John McCargo (Buffalo), RB DeAngelo Williams (Carolina), TE Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville), C Nick Mangold (NY Jets), RB Joseph Addai (Indianapolis), CB Kelly Jennings (Seattle)

Evaluation: Holmes made the greatest catch in the Steelers’ storied history to win Super Bowl XLIII. While he wasn’t the kind of long-term performer you hope to get with a first-round pick, he made his years in Pittsburgh count, while none of the three players the Giants picked ever had Colbert and company regretting this move for a second.

2019

Original pick: No. 20
Traded: Up to No. 10 with Denver Broncos
Player selected: ILB Devin Bush
Player taken at original slot: TE Noah Fant
Also given up in trade: 2019 2nd Rd No. 52 (TE Drew Sample), 2020 3rd Rd No. 83 (C Lloyd Cushenberry)
Players taken in between: OT Jonah Williams (Cincinnati), OLB Rashan Gary (Green Bay), DT Christian Wilkins (Miami), OG Chris Lindstrom (Atlanta), QB Dwayne Haskins (Washington), DE Brian Burns (Carolina), DT Dexter Lawrence (NY Giants), C Garrett Bradbury (NC State), DT Jeffery Simmons (Tennessee)

Evaluation: What a disaster. Not only did Bush never live up to his billing as a top-10 pick at linebacker, but the Steelers passed on an unusually high number of players at viable positions of need to make this work. Fant would have been a great pick at tight end, two years before the Steelers got Pat Freiermuth. Jonah Williams would have shored up right tackle for a long time. Chris Lindstrom or Garrett Bradbury could have been a long-term replacement for Ramon Foster on the interior. About the only players the Steelers wouldn’t have lusted after were the edge rushers and defensive tackles, but they all hit, too.

2020

Original pick: No. 18
Traded: to Miami for FS Minkah Fitzpatrick
Player taken at original slot: OT Austin Jackson
Also given up in trade: 2020 5th Rd No. 154 (DE Jason Strowbridge), 2021 6th Rd No. 207 (DT Jonathan Marshall)

Austin Jackson just signed a contract extension to remain Miami’s starting right tackle for the foreseeable future, and that’s usually good value for pick No. 18 — the Steelers would be just fine with that return from pick No. 20 this year. But it’s nothing in comparison to the player that Fitzpatrick has been for the Steelers, becoming a three-time All-Pro at free safety. The later picks did nothing for Miami as throw-ins, with Strowbridge out of the league and the Dolphins trading the pick that became Marshall (now with the Steelers), for running back DeAndré Washington, who played three games in Miami.

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Broderick Jones Draft Trade

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Broderick Jones during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 24, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

2023

Original pick: No. 17
Traded: Up to No. 14 with the New England Patriots
Player selected: OT Broderick Jones
Player taken at original slot: CB Chrisitan Gonzalez
Also given up in trade: 2023 4th Rd No. 120 (OT Carter Warren)
Players taken in between: DE Will McDonald IV (New York Jets), CB Emmanuel Forbes (Washington)

It’s too soon to tell how Jones will turn out as a pro, but Khan’s move to leap the Jets to make sure he got the last first-round tackle in the class is something we haven’t stopped talking about since it happened.