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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers look to add a versatile tackle with their top pick

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers look to add a tackle who could play either side with their first-round selection.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Kentucky at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2023 offseason. With free agency well under way to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers have already added some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. 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 CBS Sports, they have the Steelers addressing the offensive tackle position before anything else. While the position is one which needs to be addressed, the bigger question is if the first round is the place to do it after adding tow guards in free agency. 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 | Darnell Wright | 0T | Tennessee | Sr. |

Still being in the middle of the draft process, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Wright according to

Darnell Wright NFL Draft Scouting Report

OT, Tennessee Volunteers

A consensus five-star recruit, Darnell Wright delivered a highly productive career at Tennessee. He became a starter as a freshman at right tackle in 2019 and started every game there in 2020 before moving to left tackle in 2021 and then finishing his career back at right tackle in 2022. His experience against top competition, ability to play both sides, and growth in every season is a notable part of his evaluation.

Wright features an appealing blend of size, power, and tenacity. He has the functional strength and mass to create displacement in the run game. I really like the power in his hands and overall grip strength. His hands are not easily displaced and it’s impressive how his punch is able to stun opponents. He displays the ability to operate his hands independently and vary his strikes. Wright’s anchor is stout in pass protection and opponents won’t find success attempting to play through him. He’s a competitive blocker with ideal temperament. He is confident in pass pro, rarely getting overeager, and trusts his ability to frame, anchor, and utilize his length to keep opponents at bay.

Wright is a big-bodied blocker with only sufficient foot speed and tight hips. I believe he could benefit from dropping 10-15 pounds to improve his movement skills. Wright struggles to get good depth in his vertical sets and likes to quick set and get his hands fit while dropping his anchor to stymie rushers before they can get multiple steps into their rush. He has some tendencies to get top-heavy, duck his head, and fold at the waist when engaged with blocks—he needs to play with better bend and leverage. Wright’s range as a run blocker is underwhelming and he hasn’t proven to be effective on longer pulls or climbing to the second level while being tasked with connecting with moving targets. His modest lateral range creates challenges when attempting to execute reach blocks. In addition, he isn’t the most fluid when required to hinge and pivot when passing off rushers and adjusting to pressure schemes.

Wright has the makeup of a quality NFL starter in a run scheme that is willing to accept his modest range. His experience against top competition, power, and mass give him the chance to be a starter early in his career.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

Experience and performance at both LT and RT against top competition

Hand technique and length

Functional strength and patience in pass protection

Top Reasons For Concern:

Range in the run game

Modest footspeed and tightness in the lower half

Bend and leverage

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 Wright with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, this position should be avoided, or that Wright is worthy of the 17th pick? Personally, this pick would not surprise me at all based on the way this particular mock played out. This is the next tackle I think the Steelers would possibly take if all of the “Big Three” are off the board. Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of how the cornerback situation developed in this mock draft either and think that Wright would be a good option here. I also have to note that I like the players who would still be available for the Steelers at pick 32 when seeing who was still available.

Note: This series began in January and will run all the way up to the 2023 NFL draft. Each week highlights a new player. For this reason, sometimes it takes an outside-the-box mock draft in order to highlight a different possibility. These mock drafts are in no way an endorsement from BTSC.