NFL: New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite completing their piece of the puzzle and beating the Browns in Week 18, the Steelers' season came to a close as they found themselves on the outside looking in on the postseason. Pittsburgh needed a win along with losses by both the Patriots and Dolphins to squeak in as the No. 7 seed in the AFC. They got a loss from New England, but Miami was able to secure a win over the Jets in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, which dashed the Steelers' hopes of a postseason berth. 

While that playoff scenario didn't work in their favor, the final week of the regular season wasn't all bad for Mike Tomlin and company as they did see positive movement at the 2023 NFL Draft. In fact, the club now has what is essentially a de facto first-round pick after a wild string of events. 

Around the trade deadline earlier this year, Pittsburgh agreed to a deal with the Bears that sent wideout Chase Claypool to Chicago. The compensation for Claypool ended up being Chicago's own second-round pick at the draft this coming spring. Where the Steelers would specifically be picking wasn't known at the time, but this final week of the regular season has since brought the draft order into clear view. 

Thanks to a win by the Vikings over Chicago and the Texans winning in the final minute of their regular season finale against the Colts, the Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick at the draft. In turn, that means the Steelers have clinched the top pick in the second round with the selection they got for Claypool. 

In a typical year, that is already quite an enviable position as teams often try to trade up to that spot to pick a player that fell out of the first round to begin Day 2. This year, however, that pick could be even more valuable. 

Because the Dolphins were found to have "impermissible communications" with Tom Brady while the quarterback was under contract with the Patriots and Buccaneers, the team was stripped of its first-round pick in 2023. The NFL investigation also found the team had "impermissible communications" with Sean Payton's agent, which contributed to the punishment. 

So, that means there will only be 31 picks in the first round this year and Pittsburgh now owns the No. 32 overall selection. 

In any other year, the 32nd player is considered a first-round talent, so the Steelers have essentially added a first-rounder to its collection of picks. Of course, this is not an actual first-round pick that includes the benefits of a fifth-year option, but this trade has ended up being quite the coup for a Pittsburgh team that now owns a pick that would be situated in the first round under normal circumstances.