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Mel Kiper Jr. 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers pass on a tackle for the 5th CB in Round 1

Mel Kiper Jr. is back at it, and it seems as if the pundits at ESPN are sold on the Steelers taking a CB in Round matter what.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to team needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is little doubt the cornerback position is near the top of the list. However, when it comes to projecting the Steelers 1st Round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft at pick No. 17, nothing is a guarantee based on how the board falls.

With that being said, there are some national pundits who are determined to peg a cornerback to the Steelers, no matter what. Todd McShay of ESPN did it on his latest mock draft, and you can add Mel Kiper Jr. to the growing list of “experts” who think the Steelers will be taking a positional approach to the draft, and not Best Player Available (BPA).

In this latest one round mock draft, Kiper has the Steelers making an interesting decision with their first pick in the selection process. After having four quarterbacks taken in the Top 5 picks in Round 1, there is a run on cornerbacks to follow. Four cornerbacks are taken before the Steelers pick at No. 17.

What do the Steelers do? Take TE Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame? Nope. Take Darnell Wright, tackle out of Tennessee? Nope.

Well, I’ll let you see what Kiper has the Steelers is his Round 1 mock in its entirety:

1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI) - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
2. Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Projected trade: Indy moves up

Arizona’s pick at No. 3 is going to be coveted. It might now be the most important pick in the draft. That’s because we know quarterbacks are going to Carolina and Houston at the top of the board, but the Cardinals aren’t in the market for a passer. How far are they willing to slide down so a QB-needy team can move up? This scenario might be best for them, because they have to move down only one spot and could still get their choice of the top defenders. Go any farther down, and they won’t be so lucky.

I mentioned last month the Mitch Trubisky trade from 2017, when the Bears moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in a deal with the 49ers. Chicago gave up the Nos. 3, 67 and 111 picks along with its third-rounder in the 2018 draft. That’s the comp for this move, though as we saw in Carolina’s trade up to No. 1, the asking price increases based on the competition. If Las Vegas or Seattle gets involved, Arizona could get much more. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Arizona takes this deal down to when it’s on the clock on April 27; that’s when trading teams will know for sure who’s still available.

Indianapolis, meanwhile, has to do something to get its franchise signal-caller. There’s no way general manager Chris Ballard likes all four top quarterbacks equally. The Colts might have to give up multiple picks to get their guy.

3. Indianapolis Colts (via mock trade with ARI) - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
4. Arizona Cardinals (via mock trade with IND) - Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR) - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
7. Las Vegas Raiders - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
8. Atlanta Falcons - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) - Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
11. Tennessee Titans - Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
12. Houston Texans (via CLE) - Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
13. New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
14. New England Patriots - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
15. Green Bay Packers - Lukas Van Ness, DL, Iowa
16. Washington Commanders - Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Cameron Sutton is out, veteran Patrick Peterson is in, but Pittsburgh’s biggest need hasn’t changed. It has to get younger — and faster — at cornerback. Banks matched Forbes’ 40-yard dash time (4.35) at the combine, and he did it 31 pounds heavier (though he measured 6-foot, two inches shorter than he was listed in college). His 2022 tape is one of the best I’ve seen in this class in terms of man coverage. He can shut down an entire side of the field. He’s a fit for Mike Tomlin’s defense.

18. Detroit Lions - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
20. Seattle Seahawks - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
22. Baltimore Ravens - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
23. Minnesota Vikings - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State
25. New York Giants - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
26. Dallas Cowboys - Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE, Northwestern
27. Buffalo Bills - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN/MIA/SF) - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State

If you are like me, you don’t know much about these individual prospects, so I have to do some reading on them individually. Here is a breakdown on Banks, per The Draft Network:

Banks has shown the ability to play both press and odd coverage at a high level. In press, Banks shows to be very physical and wants to get into physical combat with receivers because he is confident in his natural strength to disrupt the timing of their release and route. Once into the route, Banks can stay on top of receivers or play a trail technique—he is able to show off his athleticism in either. Banks has smooth, fluid hips and can sink in and out of breaks to stay in phase with receivers to make a play on the football. At the catch point, Banks has the awareness and the length to challenge receivers for the football and make catches difficult to make. In off-coverage, Banks is able to come out his back pedal quickly, plant, and drive to break up passes on underneath routes as a physical defender.

Banks is a physically impressive cornerback with plus-level height and length. He also has rare reactionary athleticism for a corner his size, showing the ability to flip his hips run vertical, then sink his hips and break back downhill toward the ball.

Banks’ improvements as a player stem from his improving his ability to be consistent in his technique. In press coverage Banks tends to get too aggressive and will two-hand jam receivers which could lead to him missing and them being able to stack him vertically or resulting in him having to grab and hold defenders. Banks also shows a tendency to hold and grab defenders throughout the route, which could result in pass interference penalties in the NFL. Banks is a plus-level athlete but not elite to the point where his athleticism can naturally make up for his flaws in his lack of technique. For Banks to be effective in man-to-man coverage, he has to be consistent with his technique. Banks also needs to improve his discipline in zone coverage. He is aggressive to attempt to jump passes and leaves himself vulnerable to double moves and giving up big plays.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

  • Plus-level size and length
  • Good reactionary athleticism
  • Physical press corner

Top Reasons For Concern:

  • Injury concerns
  • Top-end speed
  • Lack of production in passing game
  • Inconsistent technique

Ideal Role: Starting outside corner

Scheme Fit: Cover 3 mixed with man

What do you think of this being the Steelers’ top pick? Also, the way Round 1 falls, what do you think the Steelers would do with pick No. 32? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.