The 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and, after getting minimal sleep over the past couple weeks, I am somewhat glad about it. However, we cannot officially put a bow on the 2022 draft cycle without a way-too-early glance at the 2023 draft class. With that being said, I am happy to release to you my annual way-too-early mock draft.
After the selection of Kenny Pickett this year, quarterback is more than likely off the board for the Steelers next year. Wide receiver could be in play, but much will depend on whether Diontae Johnson gets locked up long-term or not. Personally, I believe it would be in the best interest of both parties to move on, especially when you consider the high value currently being placed on receivers. The Steelers cannot afford to overpay for Johnson, and they have proven their ability to scout receivers at a relatively high level. I trust the Steelers to replace him through the draft, and I would be intrigued to see what Johnson’s trade value is. If the Steelers were to trade him, they may be able to pick up a high draft pick in return.
On defense, nose tackle has to be near the top of the list. The Steelers passed on Travis Jones in the second round, which would have been good value, but perhaps their eye is on somebody in the 2023 class. Cornerback could also be a major area of need, as the Steelers chose not to address the position in the draft this year. Neither Ahkello Witherspoon nor Levi Wallace are number one corners, so I would not be surprised to see the team target one early and hope he develops into the lockdown corner of the future.
If you have any thoughts as to which direction the Steelers could go in round 1 of the 2023 draft, be sure to share them in the comment section below.
Let’s get to the mock!
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Falcons receive Giants’ 2023 1st round pick and 2024 1st and 3rd round picks)
1. Giants- Bryce Young | QB | Alabama
2. Jaguars- Jalen Carter | DT | Georgia
3. Dolphins- Will Anderson, Jr. | EDGE | Alabama
4. Texans (from Browns)- Nolan Smith | EDGE | Georgia
5. Bears- Jaxson Smith-Njigba | WR | Ohio State
6. Lions- Anthony Richardson | QB | Florida
7. Seahawks- C.J. Stroud | QB | Ohio State
8. Falcons (projected from Giants)- Kayshon Boutte | WR | LSU
9. Texans- Myles Murphy | EDGE | Clemson
10. Commanders- Eli Hicks | CB | Alabama
11. Eagles (from Saints)- Kelee Ringo | CB | Georgia
12. Raiders- Jordan Addison | WR | Pittsburgh
13. Vikings- Michael Mayer | TE | Notre Dame
14. Jets- Brandon Joseph | S | Notre Dame
15. Titans- Marvin Mims | WR | Oklahoma
16. Patriots- Noah Sewell | LB | Oregon
17. Steelers- Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State
One of the biggest surprises in the 2022 draft was that the Steelers left the cornerback position unaddressed. Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are only set to make $4,000,000 each in 2022, and neither player is a number one corner. With Stephon Gilmore now off the table, it looks as if the Steelers will roll with who they currently have, while potentially bringing back Joe Haden on a small deal as the CB3. The latter, of course, will likely come down to money.
Nonetheless, corner is a position the Steelers need to find a long-term solution at. This predicament prompts the drafting of Penn State cornerback Joey Porter, Jr. The Steelers love players with NFL bloodlines, and in this situation, those bloodlines go back to a former Steeler. What I love about Porter the most is his aggressive play style. He is not afraid to get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he is a willing tackler. The splash plays have not come yet, but he has every physical trait necessary to become a star corner in the NFL.
At some point, whether fans want to hear it or not, the Steelers will have to learn to develop their own talent at corner through the draft. With a new general manager coming in, hopefully the Steelers’ scouting philosophy will change when it comes to evaluating cornerbacks, although the bigger issue is likely Mike Tomlin’s zone-heavy scheme. Either way, the Steelers need to find a true lockdown corner if they want to take their defense to the next level, and Porter could be exactly what they need.
18. Panthers- Malachi Moore | CB/S | Alabama
19. Eagles- Bryan Bresee | DL | Clemson
20. Seahawks (from Broncos)- Emil Ekiyor | G | Alabama
21. Colts- Will Levis | QB | Kentucky
22. 49ers- Calijah Kancey | DL | Pittsburgh
23. Ravens- Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
24. Cardinals- Bijan Robinson | RB | Texas
25. Bengals- Dawand Jones | OT | Ohio State
26. Cowboys- Carter Warren | OT | Pittsburgh
27. Chargers- Sam LaPorta | TE | Iowa
28. Packers- Jordan Battle | S | Alabama
29. Bills- Zion Nelson | OT | Miami
30. Lions (from Rams)- Trenton Simpson | LB | Clemson
31. Chiefs- Henry To’oTo’o | LB | Alabama
32. Buccaneers- Tyler Van Dyke | QB | Miami
There you have it, Steelers fans! That is the just the first glance at the 2023 NFL Draft, and I look forward to breaking down the class more extensively throughout the next year. What did you think of the mock? Do you think Joey Porter, Jr. would be nice fit for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!