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2023 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: 2 rounds, 4 QBs off the bat, and Steelers trade back

In Andrew Wilbar’s latest NFL mock draft, the Steelers trade back in Round 1 and go defense-heavy early on.

Minnesota v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

My, have things changed since mock draft 2.0! The NFL Scouting Combine is officially over, and the free agency mad dash has slowed down in recent days, giving us time to take a closer look at what each team is in need of as the draft approaches. With less than a month until the beginning of the NFL Draft, it is time for mock draft 3.0!

If you have seen my mock drafts before, the rules have not changed. For those that are new, let me explain how my mock drafts work. Each draft cycle, I have five NFL mock drafts, with the final 5.0 mock draft being a full, seven-round projection. Most importantly, these mocks are a projection based off what makes sense (i.e. team fit, need filler, rumored interest). They are not based on what I want to happen or what I would do if I was the general manager for each team.

I am not going to waste much time with an intro today, as the rundown of recent moves by the Steelers have already been covered by other writers and podcasters here at BTSC and the all-new Steel Curtain Network (part of the brand-new Fans First Sports Network). Be sure to stay tuned to all our family of networks as roster moves continue to happen.

As always, if you have any thoughts on this mock as a whole, be sure to share it in the comment section below. Let’s dive in!

Round 1

1. Panthers- C.J. Stroud | QB | Ohio State
2. Texans- Bryce Young | QB | Alabama
(Raiders receive Commanders 1st, 2nd, and 5th round picks and 2024 3rd round pick; Commanders receive Raiders 1st round pick)
(Cardinals receive Commanders 1st round pick via Raiders and 2024 1st and 2nd round picks)
3. **Commanders- Anthony Richardson | QB | Florida
4. Colts- Will Levis | QB | Kentucky
5. Seahawks- Will Anderson | EDGE | Alabama
6. Lions- Jalen Carter | DL | Georgia
7. **Cardinals- Christian Gonzalez | CB | Oregon
8. Falcons- Tyree Wilson | DL | Texas Tech
9. Bears- Paris Johnson, Jr. | OT | Ohio State
***PROJECTED TRADE*** (Eagles receive Jets 1st and 2nd (43) round picks; Jets receive Eagles 1st and 2nd round picks)
10. *Jets- Peter Skoronski | OT/G | Northwestern
11. Titans- Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia
12. Texans- Lukas Van Ness | EDGE | Iowa
13. *Eagles- Bijan Robinson | RB | Texas
14. Packers- Nolan Smith | EDGE | Georgia
15. Patriots- Darnell Wright | OT | Tennessee
16. *Raiders- Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State
***PROJECTED TRADE*** (Steelers receive Giants 1st, 2nd, and 5th (172) round picks)
17. Giants- Devon Witherspoon | CB | Illinois
18. Lions- Michael Mayer | TE | Notre Dame
19. Buccaneers- Matthew Bergeron | OT | Syracuse
20. Seahawks- John Michael Schmitz | C | Minnesota
21. Chargers- Jaxon Smith-Njigba | WR | Ohio State
22. Ravens- Jordan Addison | WR | Pittsburgh
23. Vikings- Quentin Johnston | WR | TCU
24. Jaguars- Emmanuel Forbes | CB | Mississippi State

25. Steelers- Deonte Banks | CB | Maryland

I know, I know. The two things that scare Steelers fans more than anything are drafting a cornerback in Round 1 and drafting a Maryland player. However, I feel as if many Steelers fans are being unfair to Banks due to these fears. I am in no way campaigning for him to be the selection at Pick 17, but fans who call him a “workout warrior and nothing else” are seriously deceived and clearly have not watched any of his tape.

Banks is an aggressive boundary corner with clean footwork, loose hips, and fantastic speed. Defending 8 passes in 2022, Banks possesses solid ball skills, although he is still not incredibly confident when his back is to the ball. That will likely come with more experience, as he was only the full-time starter for one season at Maryland. The lack of experience will scare fans off, but his physicality near the line of scrimmage combined with his fluidity in coverage will be enough for some team to take him in Round 1. Taking him at Pick 25 feels much better than at Pick 17.

***PROJECTED TRADE*** (Cowboys receive Bengals 1st and 4th round picks)
26. Bengals- Anton Harrison | OT | Oklahoma
27. Bills- Zay Flowers | WR | Boston College
28. *Cowboys- O’Cyrus Torrence | G | Florida
29. Saints- Brian Bresee | DL | Clemson
30. Eagles- Calijah Kancey | DT | Pittsburgh
31. Chiefs- Felix Anudike-Uzomah | EDGE | Kansas State

Round 2

32. Steelers- Trenton Simpson | ILB | Clemson

There are concerns about Simpson’s instincts and processing, but there is no denying his athleticism and tremendous upside. He is a true sideline-to-sideline ‘backer with the size to hold up consistently against the run. It is too big a risk to consider him at Pick 17, but he has the youth, the brains, and the physicality to smoothen the rough edges of his game and become an imposing NFL linebacker. He just needs to be in the right system.

33. Texans- Joe Tippmann | C | Wisconsin
34. Cardinals- Will McDonald IV | EDGE | Iowa State
35. Colts- Cody Mauch | OL | North Dakota State
36. Rams- Jalin Hyatt | WR | Tennessee
37. Seahawks- Darius Rush | CB | South Carolina
38. Raiders- Adetomiwa Adebawore | DL | Northwestern
39. Panthers- Dalton Kincaid | TE | Utah
40. Saints- Steve Avila | G | TCU
41. Titans- Myles Murphy | EDGE | Clemson
42. Jets- BJ Ojulari | EDGE | LSU
43. *Eagles- Jack Campbell | ILB | Iowa
44. Falcons- Josh Downs | WR | North Carolina
45. Packers- Darnell Washington | TE | Georgia
46. Patriots- Jaquelin Roy | DT | LSU
47. Commanders- Jahmyr Gibbs | RB | Alabama
48. Lions- Drew Sanders | LB | Arkansas

49. Steelers- Sydney Brown | S | Illinois

There is always a chance Pittsburgh moves Minkah Fitzpatrick to strong safety and starts Damontae Kazee at free safety, but the Steelers need a guy who can come down into the box on early downs and give the defense more versatility. Brown is a dynamic athlete who possesses great range, fluidity in coverage, and outstanding instincts. He has consistently showcased his ability to come downhill and play the run, hang with dynamic receivers in coverage, and even blitz off the edge.

50. Buccaneers- Keion White | EDGE | Georgia
51. Dolphins- Blake Freeland | OT | BYU
52. Seahawks- Tre Tucker | WR | Cincinnati
53. Bears- Luke Wypler | C | Ohio State
54. Chargers- Tyjae Spears | RB | Tulane
55. Lions- Julius Brents | CB | Kansas State
56. Jaguars- Dawand Jones | OT | Ohio State

57. Steelers- Mazi Smith | NT | Michigan

This pick would excite me more than any. The Steelers have not done anything to address the defensive line this offseason outside of the Larry Ogunjobi re-signing, which makes it almost a certainty to be addressed within the first three picks. The buzz surrounding Smith has heated up over the past couple weeks, and Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network seems to agree in one of his recent rumor articles.

I can confirm Smith had private meetings with the Jets, Steelers, and Jaguars. In fact, he met with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin twice this week.

The sense I’m getting is the Steelers would select Smith over Bryan Breese of Clemson if, in fact, it is a battle between the two at pick No. 17. Pittsburgh would prefer Smith’s rough-and-tumble style over the finesse Breese brings.

Now, I am not going to go as far as to say that Smith will be taken in Round 1, but he is an absolute freak of nature who will give the Steelers an elite run-defending presence in the middle of the defensive line.

58. Cowboys- DeWayne McBride | RB | UAB
59. Bills- Daiyan Henley | ILB | Washington State
60. Bengals- Sam LaPorta | TE | Iowa
61. Bears- Tuli Tuipolutu | DL | USC
62. *Jets- Brian Branch | DB | Alabama
63. Chiefs- Charlie Jones | WR | Purdue

This was discussed at length on the latest STEELERS FIX podcast. Check it out in the player below:

What are your thoughts on mock 3.0? Which teams got the best haul? How would you grade the Steelers’ selections? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!