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