Potential trade scenarios for the NFL draft involving the Steelers: With Omar Khan at the helm, anything is possible.

In Pittsburgh, it’s been nearly two years since Omar Khan took the reins as the Steelers’ general manager. Within that time, he’s earned the nickname “Khan Artist” from Mike Tomlin, particularly after his proactive approach in the draft, which included multiple trades to secure picks.

Traditionally, the Steelers haven’t been known for making big moves in the draft, but Khan’s tenure has seen a shift in strategy. Last year, they moved up in the first round to select Broderick Jones, acquired additional picks through trades involving Chase Claypool and others, demonstrating a willingness to be more flexible.

Khan’s leadership has overseen nine trades in just under two years, a departure from the team’s usual conservative approach. As the draft approaches, with significant gaps in the roster that may not be easily addressed through draft picks alone, it’s likely that Khan will once again be active in making moves to bolster the team.

Khan himself doesn’t label his approach as aggressive, but rather driven by the desire to serve Steeler Nation and strive for Super Bowl success. Each decision is made with this ultimate goal in mind, whether it involves making trades or not.

While some of these potential scenarios may seem far-fetched, Khan’s track record proves that anything is possible under his leadership.

Selections made by the Steelers in the draft.

Compensatory, from Eagles
From Cardinals

The Steelers’ most probable move is trading up in the first round, akin to their strategy last year when they shifted from the 20th to the 17th pick, with minimal cost. Their focus remains on securing a right tackle, evident from the 11 offensive linemen they brought in for pre-draft visits, including top prospects like Amarius Mims, Tyler Guyton, Troy Fautanu, and Taliese Fuaga, alongside centers Jackson Powers-Johnson, Zach Frazier, and Graham Barton.

Even highly regarded prospects like JC Latham could potentially fall within reach for the Steelers to consider a move up. With the 20th spot aligning well with their offensive line needs, there’s a genuine chance they could trade up to secure their desired pick. While targeting one of the top three centers might not necessitate a move up, they’re hopeful for a favorable outcome either at the 20th spot or in the second round, where Omar Khan could orchestrate another trade to acquire talents like Frazier or Powers-Johnson.

Among the various scenarios, trading up in the first round for a right tackle remains the top priority.

The Steelers have historically refrained from trading down in the first round, a practice unchanged since 2001 when they moved back three spots to select Casey Hampton. However, given their current defensive structure and the presence of quarterback Russell Wilson, who is playing for a minimal salary, the team is in a win-now mode. Trading down in the draft tends to accrue additional picks, a strategy more aligned with building a roster rather than immediate contention.

Omar Khan’s track record suggests that adding just a fourth-round pick wouldn’t likely justify moving down a few spots in the first round. However, the middle rounds present a different opportunity, as seen with their patience in acquiring Darnell Washington last year.

Addressing the need for a receiver is paramount for the Steelers. While they have promising talent in George Pickens, the depth behind him is lacking. The draft offers ample receiver talent, but immediate impact outside the first round is uncommon. Yet, the Steelers have historically shown patience in the draft beyond the first round.

Considering the Steelers’ need to add a veteran receiver, trading during the draft presents a viable option. With the draft, roster cut-down day, and trade deadline as prime opportunities, packaging a player and a pick for a receiver cannot be overlooked. Names like Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, and Chris Godwin have emerged as potential targets, though the likelihood of a trade remains uncertain. Nonetheless, with Khan’s win-now approach, all possibilities remain on the table.

Brandon Aiyuk

During the NFL league meetings last month, Khan stated that the Steelers are exploring various avenues to address their center position, including the possibility of trades. “All options are still on the table. There are some players out there still that are free agents. There’s maybe some trade opportunities, and then there’s a draft,” Khan remarked.

While Nate Herbig has some experience at center following the release of Mason Cole in early February, his playing time in that position has been limited to fewer than 60 career plays. Although James Daniels played center in 2019, he has primarily been a fixture at right guard and is unlikely to transition to center.

In reality, there aren’t many significant options available for trading for a center. It’s more probable that the Steelers will opt to draft one or potentially wait until training camp to sign a veteran like Connor Williams, who is still recovering from an ACL tear.

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