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In Hindsight, Over the Last 20 Years, Which Early Round Steelers Draft Picks Would You Have Traded for Russell Wilson?

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In Hindsight, Over the Last 20 Years, Which Early Round Steelers Draft Picks Would You Have Traded for Russell Wilson?

So, that was something, huh? The news that the Seattle Seahawks were dealing Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos sent shockwaves throughout the league and instantly made the Broncos look more like the real contenders. It didn’t come cheap. Reportedly, the blockbuster deal cost the Broncos two first round picks, two second round picks, a fifth round pick, and three players including tight end Noah Fant and the latest “franchise” quarterback that John Elway has fallen out of love with, Drew Lock

This isn’t an article about the trade, the Broncos, or really even Russell Wilson. There are going to be plenty of those over the tedious remaining offseason months. Hindsight is 20-20, but the trade got me thinking about an interesting hypothetical for the Steelers acquiring Wilson. 

First, let’s assume that we’re only dealing with the two first and two second round picks traded for Wilson, ignoring the players traded and the fifth rounder. Second, we will be looking at all the Steelers first and second round picks of the 21st century and considering which two consecutive first and second round picks would be worth shipping to Seattle for Wilson. Lastly, in this scenario, everything else remains as it is today (ie. Wilson is the same age as he is now, the cap number is the same, etc.). The question then is, over the past 22 Steelers drafts, if you could choose any two years, which two years would you give up to trade for Wilson? Let’s first do a quick refresher of all of the Steelers first and second round picks in the 21st century: 


Year:1st Round Pick:2nd Round Pick:
2000Plaxico Burress (WR)Marvel Smith (DT)
2001Casey Hampton (DT)Kendrell Bell (LB)
2002Kendall Simmons (OG)Antwaan Randle El (WR)
2003Troy Polamalu (S)Alonzo Jackson (LB)
2004Ben Roethlisberger (QB)Ricardo Colough (CB)
2005Heath Miller (TE)Bryant McFadden (CB)
2006Santonio Holmes (WR)N/A
2007Lawrence Timmons (LB)LaMarr Woodley (LB)
2008Rashard Mendenhall (RB)Limas Sweed (WR)
2009Ziggy Hood (DE/DT)N/A
2010Maurkice Pouncey (C )Jason Worilds (LB)
2011Cameron Heyward (DT)Marcus Gilbert (OT)
2012David DeCastro (OG)Mike Adams (OT)
2013Jarvis Jones (LB)Le’Veon Bell (RB)
2014Ryan Shazier (LB)Stephon Tuitt (DE)
2015Bud Dupree (LB)Senquez Golson (CB)
2016Artie Burns (CB)Sean Davis (S)
2017TJ Watt (LB)JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR)
2018Terrell Edmunds (S)James Washington (WR)
2019Devin Bush (LB)N/A
2020N/AChase Claypool
2021Najee HarrisPat Freiermuth


It’s one thing to say yes to a deal like that when you’re talking about picks that have yet to be spent, but, it’s a little more difficult when you’re having to choose specific players. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and I found myself having a more difficult time with this thought exercise than I assumed I would have. Setting aside the consecutive years that the Steelers didn’t have the necessary draft capital to make such a trade (2005-2006; 2006-2007; 2008-2009; 2009-2010; 2018-2019; 2019-2020; 2020-2021), there’s really only one obvious answer for me. 

The name Artie Burns likely still sends shivers down the spines of Steelers fans, and trading away the first and second round picks from 2015-2016 (Dupree, Golson, Burns, and Davis) is the only consecutive set of years that makes obvious sense to trade away for Wilson. Aside from Dupree, the secondary players drafted in those years were largely viewed as not living up to their draft position. None of the four are presently on the team, and only Davis (who signed a one-year contract during the 2020 season as a depth safety) was offered a second contract. As difficult as it would be to trade away Dupree, who bloomed late under his rookie contract, acquiring a franchise QB of Wilson’s caliber makes the decision pretty simple. 

While there are other consecutive sets of picks that I would consider trading away for Wilson, in my mind there isn’t another easy decision on this list, which largely speaks to the Steelers relative success drafting over the past twenty years. A lot of these players have had clutch moments as Pittsburgh Steelers, and the decision to ship them off for Wilson is not an easy one in my view. 


Do yinz agree? Disagree? Is there another set of four consecutive picks that you’d give up for Wilson? Comment below!


I'm a lifelong Steelers fan who, as a result of moving around, has seen Steeler Nation all across the country. Originally from Sharon, PA, I now reside in Columbus, Ohio and grew up on the West Coast. A 2017 graduate of THE Ohio State University, my favorite current Steelers player is Cam Heyward. I spend the small amount of time that I'm not doing Steelers stuff as a government and public relations professional in Columbus.

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