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Steelers Trade Back, Select Georgia WR Ladd McConkey In Latest CBS Sports Mock Draft

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Every draft season, the question is posed whether the Pittsburgh Steelers should make trades at the top of the draft. Just last year, GM Omar Khan executed a trade with the New England Patriots to move up from the 17 overall selection to the 14th overall selection to select OT Broderick Jones. They traded pick 120 in the fourth round to make it happen. They also moved up in the 2019 NFL Draft from pick 20 to pick 10 to select ILB Devin Bush and shipped away their second-round pick and a third-round pick the following year.

Last year’s trade seems like an early success, and they didn’t give up much to make it happen. The same can’t be said about the 2019 trade, which shipped away valuable picks for a player who never caught on and is now on his third team.

In a new CBS Sports mock draft from Josh Edwards, the Steelers make a rare trade back. In this exercise, the Steelers trade back seven spots with the Arizona Cardinals and use the 27th pick to select Georgia WR Ladd McConkey. The Cardinals use the 20th pick to select FSU Edge Jared Verse. Here is what Edwards wrote about selecting McConkey:

“Steelers fans will probably not be fans of the team’s decision to trade out of the opportunity to select one of the perceived top interior offensive linemen, but they still address a position of need while adding draft resources in the process.”

He doesn’t get into what the trade compensation would be in such a trade, but examining a draft value chart, the difference in value between the first-round picks is 170. In theory, the Steelers could get something like the Cardinals’ third-round pick at 90 (140 value), and a fifth-round pick at 138 (37 value).

As for McConkey, he would be a fine selection to pair opposite his former Georgia teammate George Pickens. He measured in at the NFL Scouting Combine at 5115, 186 pounds, with 30 1/4-inch arms. He ran an impressive 4.39-second 40-yard dash, benched 13 reps, and jumped 36 inches in the vertical.

He spent four seasons at Georgia and played in his final three. He racked up 119 total receptions for 1,687 yards and 14 touchdowns and added another 13 rushing attempts for 216 yards and four additional touchdowns. He also has some experience returning punts with 21 returns over the 2021 and 2022 seasons for 279 total yards.

He is an advanced route runner coming out of college and has great burst and separation with speed to stretch the field and gain yards after the catch. He played primarily outside, but about a quarter of his overall reps came in the slot, so he has versatility to move around.

The Steelers definitely have a need at wide receiver after trading Diontae Johnson, but this mock draft would leave them without a center or tackle, which are arguably bigger needs, though they would have additional draft capital to trade higher up into the second round. Eight total tackles and two of the top three centers were off the board by the end of the first in this mock, which would leave the Steelers in a significant bind entering Day 2. This would likely force the Steelers to turn around and trade up to get Zach Frazier in the early second round.

The last time the Steelers traded back in the first round of the draft was 2001, when they moved down three spots, picked up a fourth and sixth, and selected NT Casey Hampton.

Here is our Alex Kozora’s in-depth scouting report on McConkey below where he gave him a high third-round grade:

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