The NFL Draft is just four months away, and the draft order is beginning to take shape. The Steelers have needs on both sides of the ball, but which ones will they address in the draft? Which players could be in play for the Steelers at each pick? It is time to figure that out with a Steelers 7-round mock draft!
If you have seen my mock drafts before, the rules have not changed. For those that are new, let me explain how my mock drafts work. Until the draft order is finalized, I use the projected draft order via Tankathon, but I do project trades. I will have five mock drafts between now and the draft, with the final 5.0 mock draft being a full, seven-round projection. Most importantly, these mocks are a projection based off what makes sense (i.e. team fit, need filler, rumored interest). They are not based on what I want to happen or what I would do if I was the general manager for each team. In Steelers-exclusive mocks like this one, I will add my “Grade A” selection underneath the analysis for each pick.
Note: This is a continuation of my 1.0 NFL mock draft, which came out earlier this week. Thus, the Steelers first-round selection will not change in this exercise.
Round 1- Cody Mauch | OT | North Dakota State
The Steelers have shoved offensive tackle to the wayside way too long, and something must be done about it this offseason. The philosophy of building the offensive line from within simply does not work as well in the modern NFL, when the vast array of athletic pass rushers coming into the NFL are too much for subpar tackles to handle. Nothing is more important in the modern NFL, save quarterback, than offensive tackle.
Dan Moore, Jr. looked solid as the 2021 season came to a close, but his play has regressed under new offensive line coach Pat Meyer, exposing the need for a top talent at the position. This is a position the Steelers have never prioritized, but under a new general manager, perhaps this could change. Unfortunately, there are currently no must-have prospects at tackle this year, and even if one emerges during the next few months, the Steelers are no longer picking high enough to be in play for a prospect of that caliber.
This may not be a name you often see in Steelers mock drafts, but you can expect this name to pop up more and more as the draft process rolls along. Mauch is a physical tackle who displays impressive physical traits as both a run blocker and pass protector. He does tend to lunge on occasion and play over his feet, but that is an easily fixable issue. The only other real concern with Mauch at this point is arm length, as it is not proportionate to his 6’6” frame. This will be a crucial measurement for him at the Senior Bowl. If he stands out in Mobile against FBS competition, his stock could rise even further than this.
“Grade A” Selection: O’Cyrus Torrence | G | Florida
Round 2(a)- Siaki Ika | NT | Baylor
Nose tackles are not usually selected very high, but prospects like Ika are a rare breed. At 6’3”, 358 pounds, Ika displays an amazing amount of twitchiness and agility for a man his size. His pad level is consistent as a run blocker, and his combination of power and functional strength make him incredibly difficult to move. He is much more than an immovable force, however, as he has proven his ability to penetrate and apply pressure on the quarterback as well.
Is Ika a guy you keep on the field in obvious passing situations? No, but he is capable of more than simply taking up space and defending the run. The Steelers run defense has not been as bad as people seem to think, but it could definitely be improved. Getting a player of this caliber is worth the high draft capital. If the draft were today, I would have no issues with this pick whatsoever.
“Grade A” Selection: Siaki Ika | NT | Baylor
Round 2(b)- SirVocea Dennis | ILB | Pittsburgh
Dennis is not the biggest linebacker in the world, but he displays an ability to read and react to the run quickly. The rangy linebacker had a great statistical season for Pitt, amassing 94 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and 3 passes defended. At 6’1”, 230 pounds, Dennis would not be the greatest complement to the current Steelers linebacker room, but he would add yet another versatile option in the middle of this Steelers defense moving forward. Being a local prospect, I expect the Steelers to show him attention during the draft process.
“Grade A” Selection: DJ Turner | CB | Michigan
Round 3- Jaylon Jones | CB | Texas A&M
Waiting until Round 3 to address corner is not ideal in my mind, but the Steelers seem to have more confidence in Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace than I do. Wallace has come into form since the bye week, but even when available, Witherspoon has struggled. Considering the fact that Pittsburgh does not have the cap space to add elite talent in free agency, they will likely be looking to the draft to solve their issues at corner. Jones is an intriguing corner with a great combination of size and speed. What makes him a fit with the Steelers is his willingness to get physical as a run defender, as he never shies away from contact.
“Grade A” Selection: Payton Wilson | ILB | NC State
Round 4- Parker Washington | WR | Penn State
The Steelers love drafting prospects who are young, and they love drafting prospects who are local. With these things in mind, Parker Washington makes a ton of sense in Round 4. Built in a similar mold to former Steeler James Washington, Parker is a more explosive version of said receiver, although his 2022 season was underwhelming overall. He is a good hands catcher who has proven an ability to run crisp routes. Inconsistency is the concern heading into the NFL.
“Grade A” Selection: Andrei Iosivas | WR | Princeton
Round 6- Matthew Jones | G | Ohio State
Omar Khan may take a guard higher than this, but knowing how much the Steelers prioritize the interior of their offensive line, I could see the team investing in a veteran free agent instead. Regardless, depth is a concern, and Kevin Dotson is not even guaranteed a roster spot in 2023 at this point. Matthew Jones is an experienced guard who, for his size (6’3”, 315) displays decent mobility. He will have a chance to prove his worth this Saturday when he faces Jalen Carter and the Georgia Bulldogs.
“Grade A” Selection: Steven Gilmore | CB | Marshall
Round 7- Ja’von Hicks | S | Cincinnati
Once a popular sleeper for the 2022 draft class, Hicks looks to gain relevance once again after posting solid numbers in his senior season. While not the fastest or most athletic safety, Hicks displays a solid amount of physicality, willingly coming downhill to make plays against the run at any point. His NFL outlook is likely as a backup who can provide value on special teams.
“Grade A” Selection: Davis Allen | TE | Clemson
What are your thoughts on this mock draft? Which ones make the most sense for the Steelers? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC as we get you ready for the Steelers vs. Ravens matchup.