The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is officially on the books with the team finishing with a 9-8 record but failing to qualify for the playoffs. With the season now in the rearview mirror, many will turn their attention to the offseason and specifically the 2023 NFL Draft. Now that Pittsburgh has been officially eliminated from the playoffs, they must choose 17th overall in the first round and owning the first pick in the second round thanks to the trade of Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears.
While we still have All-Star, NFL Combine, and Pro Day games coming up ahead of this spring’s draft, it’s never too early to go through draft scenario simulations and player/prospect drafts that might be of interest. the Steelers given their current roster needs and talent in this upcoming draft class.
ROUND 1 (#17 OVERALL) — DEVON WITHERSPOON/CB/ILLINOIS
Analysis: The Steelers have tried to go the cheap route and invest two-year contracts averaging $4 million annually in CBs Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace this offseason. Although Wallace played well at times, neither cover man should be considered a No. 1 CB.
Pittsburgh nabs a potential CB1 here in the second round, selecting Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon may not have an odd size (5’11 180lbs) or physical tools, but he’s a physical, feisty competitor who epitomizes what you’re looking for in an NFL cover man. Witherspoon posted 41 total saves, 2.5 TFLs, three INTs and 14 PBUs. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and was recently elected to Focus on professional football 2022 All-American Team for his efforts this season. He has the makings of a quality corner cover and has the demeanor of a willing physical running defender that Pittsburgh is looking for in their CBs.
ROUND 2 (#32 OVERALL) – DREW SANDERS/LB/ARKANSAS
Analysis: The Steelers desperately need to add starting caliber talent to this ILB core with Robert Spillane and Devin Bush heading to free agency and to create a position that has been lacking in the splash play department for some time time now. Drew Sanders would be a great second-round selection as a guy who has experience playing both on the edge and in the box, giving Pittsburgh a mobile chess piece in LB like the hybrid players Brian Flores has trained in the past. Sanders had a productive season in 2022, posting 103 total tackles (40 solo), 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, five PBUs and one INT. Sanders is a quality pass thrower and has great range as a running and chasing defender.
ROUND 2 (#49 OVERALL)—ANDREW VORHEES/OL/USC
Analysis: The Steelers can improve their offensive line with more consistent options at LT or LG. Andrew Vorhees has established himself as one of the most stable and reliable OLs in college football. the racing game. With 25 starts at right guard, 8 starts at left guard, 4 starts at left tackle and being LG’s starter last season, Vorhees has the versatility to play multiple positions at the next level. Vorhees is as proven as they come and can push Kevin Dotson for LG’s top spot right away as a rookie.
ROUND 3 (#80 OVERALL)— KEEANU BENTON/DL/WISCONSIN
Analysis: The Steelers need to add depth and entries to their defensive line with the number of upcoming free agents they think they have this offseason. Keeanu Benton could fit both designations because he improved every season at Madison and put himself on the map as one of the best interior defensive linemen in this draft class. He has impressive game strength to lose blocks and push the pocket. He’s a threat in the running game and also brings a rush to the table, with four sacks this season. Standing at 6’4, 315 pounds, Benton could make a lot of money if he can show scouts he can be a three-try defender in Mobile and get the best of the inside OL in passing drills. .
ROUND 4 (#119 OVERALL)— MARVIN MIMS/WR/OKLAHOMA
Analysis: While the Steelers have Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Calvin Austin III in tow for next season, Austin is coming off a lost year and owner Art Rooney II himself has expressed the need to improve the passing game . Pittsburgh returns to the draft and lands another excellent mid-round value selection here in Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims. Mims came out early as a junior after showing his talents over the past three years with the Sooners. He can stretch the field and make leaping and combative catches despite a smaller frame (5’11, 184lb). He comes out of his breaks well and can stretch the court, creating more splash for a Steelers passing game that requires more explosive plays on the court.
ROUND 7 (#236 OVERALL)— YASIR ABDULLAH/EDGE/LOUISVILLE
Analysis: Pittsburgh should take care of the OLB position behind TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, needing a capable rotation player who can provide a pass rush if he needs a break or gets a long time is missing. Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah isn’t the biggest body at the position (6’1, 234lbs), but he’s become one of the best passers in all of college football over the past few seasons.
He’s scored 19.5 sacks over the past two years combined with eight career forced fumbles, using his height and low center of gravity to round the corner and capitalize on his passing rush against longer OTs. His size will remove his draft value in April, making him a potential candidate if Pittsburgh waits to tackle the job until day three.
ROUND 7 (#248 OVERALL)—DORIAN THOMPSON-ROBINSON/QB/UCLA
Analysis: A lot of yinz aren’t going to like this, but there’s a good chance the Steelers will target a backup QB from the future in the 2023 NFL Draft. With Mason Rudolph set to become a free agent and Mitch Trubisky likely to be vacated to save space and give him a chance to start somewhere else (which I guess is fine with you all), the Steelers will need to add QBs to the play. . While they could go out and land another veteran, what will likely happen is to sign a low-cost backup option to mentor Pickett as the team’s QB1 next season and Pittsburgh will use a pick from the third day to prepare his future backup QB.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a logical name to project here with Pittsburgh’s latest pick as he lacks consistent accuracy and ideal size, but is a multi-year starter who had his best season in 2022, possessing the arm and the athleticism to play in the Pittsburgh offense. He recently spoke to Joe Cammarota of Steelers Depot, stating he had spoken to the Steelers at the East/West Shrine game, which suggests there’s at least some interest there. If they want to go the same route as last year to secure their 3rd/4th QB on the roster, the Steelers could most likely draft DTR with one of their final picks rather than try to get into a war. auction at UDFA.
What do you think of the names listed above in this fictional draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Does this present a realistic scenario the team could adopt for the 2023 NFL Draft? What did I understand correctly? Where did I mess up? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and thanks again for reading!