The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2023 offseason. With free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2022 roster and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. The NFL combine and player pro days will also shape the team’s big boards before the draft.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or defensive line with their first-round pick. Others feel inside linebacker or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In one of the latest mock drafts by Pro Football Network, they have the Steelers addressing the offensive line position before anything else. Even though all of the 2022 starters from the offensive line are returning for 2023, an upgrade is not out of the question. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 17th pick:
17. Pittsburgh Steelers | Peter Skoronski | OT | Northwestern | Jr. |
Being early in the draft process, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Skoronski according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Peter Skoronski NFL Draft Scouting Report
Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski projects as a starting offensive lineman for just about every team in the NFL. The ultimate position he falls into will vary team by team, although this is a three-year starter in the Big Ten at left tackle who has plenty of tape to indicate he can fulfill that role if a team wishes to bestow it upon him. Skoronski is among the most refined offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft and should be a plug-and-play starter.
Originally a 4-star recruit, Skoronski committed to Northwestern out of Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois. His grandfather, Bob, played for the Packers’ legendary head coach Vince Lombardi and was a captain on five NFL Championship teams in Green Bay. Meanwhile, Peter was a three-year letterman in both track & field and basketball during his high school days in addition to his football career. Skoronski received offers from powerhouse programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State in addition to scholar schools such as Duke, Stanford, and, of course, Northwestern. He put himself on the map immediately by stepping into Rashawn Slater’s role at left tackle as a true freshman during the 2020 COVID-shortened season; Slater opted out of the year and Skoronski assumed his role and never looked back.
Skoronski’s fundamentals immediately pop to you when you watch him play. He’s got very crisp hands and showcases a variety of pass sets to change the approach of opposing pass rushers. He’s shown the ability throughout the course of his career to take vertical sets and challenge speed or, alternatively, short-set rushers and force them to play through his frame. I’m impressed with Skoronski’s base and ability to stay tethered with a firm anchor in protection and when climbing vertically in the run game. I’m impressed with how fluid Skoronski’s foot adjustments are to avoid a static base that would break down his posture—he’s aware of the ramifications of a dead base and does well to stay dynamic in this regard.
In the run game, you do see effective vertical movement on double teams, particularly when charged with stepping down on inside-shaded defenders. His ability to collect and climb to the second level is effective. There have also been bright flashes of zone work as well, with him stringing out the point of attack horizontally to allow his back to cut off his hip. I appreciate some of the counter work Northwestern put on film to allow Skoronski to pull through the set and get vertical on linebackers on the second level, as well—he should project fairly well to both gap and power concepts as a result.
For all the good (and there’s a lot of it), there are some questions that ultimately will project him to different roles for different teams. I do think he’s more fluid than explosive at times, particularly in some of the 2022 contests I studied. Between that and his length, I think there are some disparities between his resume and numerous recent top-of-the-first-round offensive tackles. The Michigan game in 2021 showcased some struggles with wingspan and getting his hands attached, particularly on the speed rushes by OLB David Ojabo, who tested him with speed up the field. Some of his second-level angles were short when climbing to pick off backside flow at times—although to be fair to him, they were disadvantageous angles. Yet, for a player in the projected draft range in which Skoronski is currently forecasted, I would love to see him hit some of those landmarks with more consistency. Teams who deem him an interior talent may not covet him as high and that’ll impact his final stock—although he will have a home on every offensive line in the league somewhere.
Expectations for Skoronski will be the same even amid different positional forecasts—he should be a starter from day one. I do see some potential challenges to being a positive starter immediately, as he’ll either need to acclimate to setting against NFL-caliber linemen each and every week on the edge or he’ll be charged with re-calibrating as an interior lineman. But by year three of his rookie contract, expect to see a quality starter up front.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
High level of football IQ in all phases
Proficient hand usage and technique to sustain blocks
Position-versatile player who will clear tackle thresholds for some
Effective mover in all concepts in the run game
Top Reasons For Concern:
Functional athleticism to mirror on the edge is sufficient
Arm length and wingspan are untraditionally short
Potential transition to inside after three seasons of playing left tackle at Northwestern
For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Skoronski with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, a different one who may still be available, or that Skoronski will not make it to the 17th pick? Personally, I don’t see the Steelers selecting Skoronski because I simply don’t think he’ll be there at pick 17th. If he is, the Steelers should sprint to the podium with their card. Whether they would envision him staying at tackle or sliding inside to guard, a player like this being available in that spot doesn’t happen very often. So while I would love the scenario, I’m not holding my breath for it to occur. But there is still a lot of time between now and draft day per player’s stock to rise or fall.