Given the type of impact Fitzpatrick had in 14 games with Pittsburgh last season, general manager Kevin Colbert is quite satisfied with the return on investment, even if that means he’ll sit out the first round on April 23, especially given the scouting restraints due to COVID-19.
“Quite honestly, we’re very comfortable not having a first-round pick this year, especially when it’s in the form of Minkah Fitzpatrick replacing that first-round pick,” Colbert said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Under the current circumstances, the uncertainty of the player you might be taking and to not have all the information you had in the past, I’m a lot more comfortable knowing we got an All-Pro player with that pick. I’m not real concerned about getting back in there.”
The downside to trading a first-round pick for a player already under contract is the Steelers only get Fitzpatrick for three more seasons under his rookie deal before a new contract or franchise tag comes into play.
Still, given the playmaking ability Fitzpatrick showed, there is little to squabble with Colbert’s decision to ship a first-round pick for the safety. In 14 games with the Steelers, the 23-year-old swiped five interceptions, scooped up two fumbles — taking one for a TD — and earned nine passes defended and 57 tackles. His addition solidified Pittsburgh’s secondary and made the Steelers‘ D one of the top units last season, almost dragging a dead offense to the playoffs.
Sans a first-round pick, Colbert said it’s “highly unlikely” the Steelers would be willing to part with necessary assets to trade back into the first round.
Pittsburgh’s first selection is slated to come in the second round, No. 49 overall, where the plan is to add a playmaking talent, perhaps on offense, to help get the Steelers back to the playoffs in 2020.
“There’s good depth in this draft,” Colbert said. “I feel good about who we can get in the second round and beyond.”
The draft is particularly deep at receiver, a position of need for Pittsburgh, and one at which Colbert has proven an expert at unearthing talent time and time again outside of the first round.