clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers look to add a familiar receiver with their top pick

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers look to add a receiver with some already established chemistry with their quarterback.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Notre Dame at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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 the latest mock drafts by Touchdown Wire, they have the Steelers addressing the wide receiver position before anything else. While it is not the most pressing need at this time, adding another offensive weapon would probably not shock Steelers fans. 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 | Jordan Addison | WR | USC | 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 Addison according to

Jordan Addison NFL Draft Scouting Report

WR, USC Trojans

USC wide receiver Jordan Addison is among the most refined 2023 NFL Draft prospects in this class. A former Biletnikoff winner and a star between both the Pittsburgh and USC programs, Addison has showcased his abilities across multiple coaches, quarterbacks, and systems. His route-running, ball skills and big-play ability will be a welcomed addition and an immediate improvement to most NFL landing spots.

Originally a 4-star recruit, Addison was a prized recruit out of Tuscarora High School in Frederick, MD. Receiving attention from Maryland, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and Virginia, he ultimately settled on heading north to Pittsburgh and quickly staked a claim as an impact player in the Panthers’ offense. A multi-position player at Tuscarora, Addison logged reps as a wide receiver, quarterback, and defensive back. He was credited with a 4.51s 40-yard dash leaving high school as a smaller player—he was listed in the 160s. Addison was a large part of the growth of Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett, who was drafted No. 20 overall in 2022 after feeding Addison the football. He then transferred to USC to play for Lincoln Riley in 2022.

The biggest thing that pops with Addison is just how dynamic his play is before he gathers the football. There’s a very strong sense of altering pace and attacking coverages with timing, allowing coverages to unfold before accelerating into his break and creating optimal separation. Addison enjoyed a productive freshman season in 2020, but his offensive explosion in 2021 showcased constant separation both down the field and across the middle—he’s a quarterback’s dream in this regard; never mind his ability in the quick game and screen game to create as well. Addison has plucky hands and caught several hot throws away from his frame; snatching the ball cleanly away from the body and tucking it to transition into run after catch.

The RAC component of Addison’s game is another winning ingredient, even if I’m not sure he’ll be a true track burner like some other big RAC players. At Pittsburgh, he received plenty of RPO bubbles and quick throws and allowed him to manufacture false steps, poor tackle challenges, and extra yards with the ball in his hands. At USC, Addison was targeted on quick hitters in free space underneath and given room to turn upfield. He’s a twitchy player and shows very good creativity with the ball in his hands to manufacture added offense. Thanks to his adjusted pace, tempo, ball skills, run-after-catch ability, and savvy route-running, there are not many landing spots in which I don’t see an impact for Addison.

This isn’t a universal player who is guaranteed to shine in every role, however. His stature and physicality are not areas that will serve as hallmarks or even as sufficient layers to his game. He needs to be involved in the screen game as a target but not as a point setter and playing him to the run strength will only offer value if he’s running defenders off the line. His attitude and effort here are fine, he’s just not going to bully perimeter players to create soft edges. I don’t believe Addison will need to serve exclusively in the slot at the next level, as his agility and route-running will allow him to separate on the perimeter. But he’s not going to overwhelm corners with strength and asking him to consistently win real estate at the catch point in contested situations or high-point throws feels like a misuse of his talents. He can bail his quarterback out on precision timing throws in these areas thanks to his ball skills, I just wouldn’t want to make a living as an offense using Addison in this regard.

It is worth acknowledging that concentration drops popped up on his film throughout his Pittsburgh career (it was reduced at USC) and Addison suffered an ankle injury in 2022 that cost him about a month of play. He later decided to sit out the Cotton Bowl due to a “setback” after returning to close the regular season.

Expectations for Addison should be that of an immediate impact player. He may not be a viable WR1 from the jump as a rookie, but he is a player primed to make an impact and he brings ample translatable traits. I would expect Addison to be one of the rookie receivers in 2023 who continues the recent trend of impact rookies in NFL passing offenses.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

Separation comes consistently and on all levels

Crafty release package and work at the top of routes

Proven weapon as a high-volume target

Terrific spatial awareness and body control

Top Reasons For Concern:

He doesn’t have true top-shelf speed to create explosives after the catch

Physicality could be a barrier to a fully complementary skill set

Drops were a significant issue at Pittsburgh

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 Addison with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, this position should be avoided, or that Addison will not make it to the 17th pick? Personally, this is the only wide receiver I think the Steelers should even begin to entertain taking in the first round, and I’m saying they even should do that. If the draft fell in a very specific way this might be their best option, but that would require many others not being there who I hope could still be available. As for the player himself, the chemistry between Addison and Pickett at Pitt in 2021 is undeniable. Whether that would translate to the pro level like Borrow and Chase would be the biggest question.

For those interested, this was a three-round mock draft. The next two selections for the Steelers were a guard (O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida) and a cornerback (Deonte Banks, Maryland). The website did not load easily so I thought I would list them in case others were curious.