The Pittsburgh Steelers had an impressive run to close out 2023. Kenny Pickett performed about as well as anyone could have hoped. Najee Harris is the team’s MVP and is proving running back might matter. The future is bright as long as the Steelers make an improvement in the off-season and address some of their key needs. This seven-round mock draft is one of the directions the Pittsburgh Steelers could go in April’s draft.
Note that this exercise was performed using the Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Simulator. While it may be advisable for Pittsburgh to trade up or down, I left trades out of this exercise.
READ MORE: Who Should the Steelers Re-Sign in Free Agency
Pittsburgh Steelers Seven-Round Mock Draft 1.0
Pick 1.17 Joey Porter Jr. CB
This pick is fun for so many reasons. First, the Steelers love to have family ties to their players. The Edmunds brothers were used on both sides of the ball from 2018 until 2020 when Trey Edmunds bounced on and off the practice squad. The Heyward brothers are racking up touchdowns and tackles for a loss for the current team. Porter Jr. is the son of former Super Bowl champion, seventh all-time Steelers sack leader Joey Porter.
Second, the Steelers desperately need help in the secondary. The Cincinnati Bengals are winning the arms race at wide receivers in the AFC North, and the Cleveland Browns could certainly add someone in the draft. If Pittsburgh wants to keep up, they will need to slow down the pass offenses in their division.
In comes Joey Porter Jr. The 6’2″ 198-pound prospect out of Penn State excelled for the Nittany Lions in 2021 and 2022. He essentially won every pertinent award for defensive backs in 2022. His play style has shades of his linebacker father, a tough physical tackler to pair with his elite defensive back skill set. Porter Jr. would step in and immediately be the best corner on the roster and take the defense from good to great.
Joey Porter Jr. is going to be a problem for NFL offenses.
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 25, 2023
Pick 2.32 Calijah Kancey IDL
Thank you, Chase Claypool. The Steelers trade allows them to take the homegrown Pittsburgh product with their second draft pick. Kancey is slightly undersized, but it is difficult to watch the undersized nose guard and not think of Aaron Donald in college. He uses his speed, athleticism, and hand-fighting ability to discard offensive linemen at will. Mel Kiper has him going off the board surprisingly early, so he may not be available to the Steelers at 32. If he is on the board, he slots into an immediate starting role and possibly the heir to Cameron Heyward’s throne.
Pick 2.49 Eli Ricks CB
Imagine the Steelers having two game-changing players at a position of need. While it would be strange to double dip this early at corner, the value felt too good to pass up. Ricks was a five-star recruit out of high school and showed it in his time in the SEC. It is worth noting Ricks possesses similar size to Joey Porter Jr. and played against slightly better competition. Ricks allowed a passer rating of 41.9 in his senior year but could not turn his good positioning into interceptions. The Ricks and Porter Jr. combination would lock up the CB position for four years and allow the team to slow down some elite offenses.
Pick 3.80 Dawand Jones OT
The Steelers desperately need help on their offensive line. Chukwuma Okarafor has held down the right side of the line, but Dan Moore is by no means the long-term solution on the other side. Dawand Jones profiles as a run-grinding right tackle but has the size for either side. He gave up zero sacks his senior year at Ohio State and could be a project left tackle or an immediate starter at right tackle.
Pick 4.120 Olusegun Oluwatimi C
To reiterate, the Steelers desperately need help on their offensive line. As the Steelers forge their offensive identity in 2023, adding bodies to their offensive lineman room is a must. Oluwatimi is an effective coordinator of protection at the center position and is an older prospect from Michigan. As long as Pittsburgh does not have their long-term solution at center, swinging at the position is worth a shot.
Pick 6.195 Dee Winters LB
In the sixth round Winters can contribute on special teams. He is a sure tackler that flies like a missile while playing middle linebacker. If he finds himself into meaningful minutes at middle linebacker, this is a home run pick. Otherwise, he is much-needed depth at a position of need.
Pick 7.236 Jaren Hall QB
The Pittsburgh Steelers end this mock draft by throwing a dart at the game’s most important position. Who will be the Steelers backup quarterback in 2023? Mason Rudolph is not under contract. Mitch Trubisky may be traded so he can find playing time elsewhere. While the position can be addressed through other means, a seventh-round pick with upside makes sense.
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