With the Pittsburgh Steelers sitting at 2-6, there are many talking points and opinions about what ails this football team. To be honest, I don’t think there are any wrong opinions at this point of where the Steelers should look in the 2023 NFL Draft.
At the half way point in the 2022 season there is no telling where the Steelers will be drafting. At the moment, Pittsburgh is slated anywhere between the 4th overall pick to around the 9th overall pick depending on the draft site you follow. There was a surprising trade where Chase Claypool was sent to the Chicago Bears for their 2nd Round pick. The Bears are currently slated around the 40th pick.
If you are buying into the Steelers reload principle then your projected needs are going to be a little different from mine. I am like Shannon in believing we are in full rebuild mode, meaning nothing is off the table and that looking into the near future is also important because one draft isn’t going to right the ship.
Below are my thoughts on wants, needs and retaining a few of our own for the 2023 season.
The Steelers need help! Not with just depth but philosophy and today’s game. You can’t just rely on getting to the quarterback you have to have guys that can cover and stick on their man. The defense struggles with zone principles and having someone that can lockdown on the outside. This is a relatively deep class so maybe a double dip isn’t out the question. I’m really hoping our scouting and development improve.
I do think we need to upgrade the left side of the offensive line, but looking more at LG and replacing Kevin Dotson who feels like the odd man out scheme wise. I think Mason Cole has filled in admirably, but looking in terms of the future I don’t think Center is off the table.
Interior Defensive Line
Cam Heyward’s age is a factor when looking at this draft. There has been some short term Free Agent help and it looks like DeMarvin Leal was a solid selection, but this unit needs an influx of younger talent. I wouldn’t mind bringing Larry Ogunjobi back and the team has Loudermilk as a developmental piece but the remaining depth is suspect.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I think the Steelers should try and work a one-year deal with Devin Bush. That doesn’t mean I am taking Linebacker off the needs list but it would allow to find a future starter in waiting if one was to present himself. Does the defense need a thumper, or do they go with coverage?
I was one of Terrell Edmunds’ harshest critics, but his play and contract sort of match as opposed to to his lofty first round selection. If we can sign Edmunds to a 2-3 year deal that keeps the starters intact. If we are looking at a possible slot, overhang or spur prospect that would be an immediate upgrade then I’m all for that as well. You can’t have enough coverage guys in this league! Was really hoping to see what Damontae Kazee could have added this year.
Round 1 - Peter Skoronski #77 Left Tackle Northwestern 6’4” 294lbs
I’ll start this by saying that I don’t think he is a Left Tackle at the next level and that I view him as a Left Guard or maybe kicking all the way inside to Center. The only real issue that can be found is the lack of length.
Outside of that, Skoronski is one of the most fundamentally and technically sound draft prospects in 2023 at any position. In Pass Pro his balance or base is aided by tremendous footwork. In the run game his angles are correct to maximize blocks while also having the fluidity to reach the second level.
Looking at the current make up along the left side of the line, they are projects at best. Skoronski would be an immediate improvement over Kevin Dotson at Left Guard and would start the rebuild along the front.
Side Note: This pick remains the same outside of having a chance at Will Anderson Jr., EDGE Alabama
Round 2 - Emmanuel Forbes #13 Corner Back Mississippi State 6’ 180lbs
I’m sure this pick will be debated but what can’t be debated is we need help in the secondary and more importantly at corner. I’m not sure why we can’t draft or develop corners but it has been an issue, much so in that the only success has been via Free Agency. Let’s try and fix that.
I’m sure some are looking at his weight and that gives an immediate red flag. Yes he will need to add some NFL weight but don’t let that fool ya. While his aggressive nature leads to an occasional missed tackle he is solid contributor in that area and does not lack “want to”. Now for the good. It is fitting that he plays for the Bulldogs, simply because he is a “dawg”. He is one of the most productive guys in this deep corner class. I highly suggest reading his bio, because it is truly impressive.
Forbes is also a very athletic corner that has twitch in his game. He also boasts the technical aspects of the position that allow him to stay in phase with the route runners. He also boasts scheme versatility, able to play a combination of man and zone. For a guy that questions our ability to play zone correctly, his awareness in zone may be just as good as his man skills. He is physical, he has the correct mind set and he is a ballhawk.
Round 2 - Siaki Ika #62 NT Baylor 6’3” 342
I really want to add another 5 Tech here to have in place for the eventual retirement of one of the best Defensive Lineman in Steeler history. The problem is my personal rankings would not let me do it. Instead, I present a beast of a man at a scrutinized position, the Nose Tackle or 0 Tech.
Siaki Ika is not your average run of the mill run stuffer. Now, don’t get me wrong he isn’t terrible at stopping the run or eating double teams a la Casey Hampton who created that space for the backers to work. I think some would agree we could use some of that with the Steelers’ current group of Inside Linebackers, but the Baylor behemoth is actually adept at applying pressure along the inside in the passing game. He doesn’t just have to line up across from the Center, also plays some 3 Tech. Outside of an occasional breather he could actually stay on the field and not be just a rotational piece when teams go with tempo or try and catch us in a disadvantage.
Outside of standing straight up on occasion and relying on his upper body to win at the college level, adding to his base strength will maximize his value at the next level. He’s not Casey Hampton, and he’s not Jordan Davis, but he is his own version of that position that blends a little of both.
Round 3 - Rashee Rice #11 WR 6’2” 208lbs SMU
With the trade of Chase Claypool it’s probable the Steelers will take another WR, but at what point in the draft? I’m not gonna lie I would love to pair Pickett with his former running mate, Jordan Addison, but that would require a first round pick.
Rice has sky rocketed up draft boards and in a relatively weak class he may find himself drafted earlier than my projection. Nonetheless, Rice is an explosive Wide Receiver before and after the catch. He has great hands and can catch the ball in tight spaces. Not afraid of the middle of the field and is a solid blocker. The SMU Mustang has long speed as well as some short area burst and surprising twitch.
He has increased production in each year at SMU and has 62 catches and 982 yards (15.8 yards a catch) with 6 TDs so far in 2022. Has the ability to take over an entire series. Does his best work out the slot but isn’t limited to a single position.
Round 4 - Daiyan Henley #1 ILB 6’2” 232lbs Washington State
His transition to the position reminds me somewhat of Troy Anderson in the 2022 Draft. Former QB in HS, played WR, Safety and then the eventual move to Linebacker. He transferred to Washington State to be with his former defensive coach. So the term “raw” will possibly get attached to his name but by all accounts he is working to hone his craft. To play that many positions you have to understand he is an athlete but don’t take that in a negative way.
Fast mover to the football that has some coverage and ball skills. My only hang up is will he need to be kept clean at the next level. Don’t get me wrong there’s film of him stacking shedding and flowing through trash, but the NFL is a different world. Some may view him as an early Day 2 guy and he may actually go that early.
Henley has had a great start to the 2022 season, in 8 games he has 36 Solo Tackles (80 combined) 11 tackles for loss 4 sacks 1 INT and 2 Forced Fumbles.
Has been named as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, and did I mention he also returned kicks?
Round 7 Keion White #6 IDL 6’5” 286lbs Georgia Tech - Looking here as a 5 Tech but would need to add some weight but has the desired length coveted by teams.
Round 7 Jordan Morgan #77 LT 6’6” 320lbs Arizona - An ascending talent that is working to gain consistency.
Sorry for the lack of info on the 7th round picks, but it’s early in the process!
As always stay safe and Go Steelers! Let us know your thoughts and who you would want to see in the Black and Gold in 2023.