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Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Preview, Week 6: Did someone say defense?

The Steelers defense needs help, and these 2023 NFL Draft prospects could solve some of the problems.

Utah v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.

#8 Tennessee vs. #25 LSU — Noon ET on ESPN

Tennessee Spotlight: Omari Thomas — DT (6’4”, 320 lbs); Darnell Wright — OT (6’6”, 335 lbs)
LSU Spotlight: BJ Ojulari — EDGE (6’3”, 244 lbs); Mekhi Garner — CB (6’2”, 212 lbs)

Omari Thomas has not seen much production in 2022, but he is quite a talent. While not much of a finisher, Thomas has the ability to create penetration. His biggest attribute, however, is his consistency in run defense. He maintains a great pad level and uses his length well, creating leverage and disengaging from blocks with success.

For the Tigers, I am sticking with a familiar name: BJ Ojulari. Ojulari is not a new name to those of you who read this piece every week, but Ojulari is an explosive pass rusher who displays adequate length and outstanding quickness around the edge. His first-step quickness gives him an advantage against unathletic tackles, and his repertoire of moves makes it difficult for opposing tackles to predict which trick he is going to pull out.

#11 Utah vs. #18 UCLA — 3:30 ET on FOX

Utah Spotlight: Clark Phillips III — CB (5’10”, 191 lbs); Junior Tafuna — DL (6’4”, 300 lbs)
UCLA Spotlight: Jon Gaines II — G (6’4”, 300 lbs); Azizi Hearn — CB (6’1”, 206 lbs)

After a three-interception game last weekend, Clark Phillips is deserving of your full attention. Currently a projected top-50 pick, Phillips fits the mold of a modern-day slot corner. He has great speed, neat footwork, impressive ball skills, and a sneaky bit of athleticism as well. Steelers fans should have his name circled, underlined, and highlighted.

For UCLA, I am curious to see how Jon Gaines performs against Utah’s strong defensive front. Gaines is a versatile lineman who moves well in space and has surprising power for a lineman of his physique. The Steelers are at a crossroads with Kevin Dotson, and if the team decides to move on, the front office will need to explore middle-round options such as Gaines.

#3 Ohio State vs. Michigan State — 4:00 ET on ABC

Ohio State Spotlight: Paris Johnson, Jr. — OT (6’6”, 315 lbs); Javontae Jean-Baptiste — EDGE (6’5”, 255)
Michigan State Spotlight: Jacoby Windmon — EDGE (6’1”, 250 lbs); Spencer Brown — OT (6’6”, 320 lbs)

This game is not near as appetizing as it originally looked at the beginning of the season, but crazy things have happened in games like these. The game is in East Lansing, and Sparty has the talent to compete when they play mistake-free football. The heart and soul of their defense has been pass rusher Jacoby Windmon. He does not have great length, but he displays the strength to blow through tackles. He has a great motor as well.

For the Bucks, all Steelers fans should pay attention to Paris Johnson, who I have mentioned multiple times this season. Dan Moore simply does not have what it takes to dominate at the NFL level, and the Steelers may finally be picking high enough to get an elite tackle in the draft. I would also pay attention to Javontae Jean-Baptiste, who has not stacked up huge production in 2022 but has made a major impact when on the field.

Other Games of Note

#17 TCU vs. #19 Kansas — Noon ET on FS1

Prospects to watch: Quentin Johnson (WR — TCU), Earl Bostick, Jr. (OT — KAN)

Texas vs. Oklahoma — Noon ET on ABC

Prospects to watch: Keondre Coburn (DT — TEX), David Ugwoegbu (ILB — OKLA)

Which NFL Draft prospects do you have your eye on this weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stick around throughout the day in the comment section, discussing college football action as it occurs before our eyes all afternoon and evening!