The 2023 NFL Draft is now just weeks away, and that means the mock drafts are really starting to heat up. Everyone has their predictions out there for analysis and inspection, but most mock drafts are of the 1 Round variety.
When someone is willing to put together a full 7-Round mock draft, it should be acknowledged. With that said, it is difficult enough to predict one round of the draft, let alone all seven rounds.
Nonetheless, that is exactly what Jordan Reid of ESPN did in his latest prediction piece.
Let’s take a look at who he has going to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a little bit of analysis of each pick.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Adding offensive tackle help around quarterback Kenny Pickett is crucial for the Steelers. The addition of guard Isaac Seumalo means the interior of the line is set, but they need to add left tackle competition for Dan Moore. Wright would give Pittsburgh a young dependable tackle option. He started 42 games in college, including 27 at right tackle. His top traits are his strength, physicality and sustain-and-strain ability. Wright’s ascension since 2021 arguably has been the highest of any prospect in this class. There are several teams that view him as a prospect who can play either tackle spot or guard at a high level as a rookie.
An early run on quarterbacks, three picked in the first four selections, equates in a run on offensive tackles to follow. Sprinkled in throughout those picks are the big-name cornerbacks coming off the board. With Nick Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon and Joey Porter Jr. all gone, the Steelers take Wright with their top pick. Wright is a versatile piece who could be a valuable asset for the offensive line for a very long time.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI) - Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The Steelers have a big hole at nickel corner after Cam Sutton signed with the Lions in free agency. Branch is an ideal replacement. He has the versatility and physicality to step in as a rookie and compete for a starting position. This secondary lacks high-end talent and depth.
Needing help at the safety position following Terrell Edmunds leaving Pittsburgh for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers go with a pro-ready prospect in Brian Branch. On paper this selection makes sense, but schematically there will be many who question whether Branch will be able to fill Edmunds’ “in the box” safety role.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers - Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
The Steelers added inside linebackers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts this offseason, overhauling the second level of the defense. They don’t have a versatile linebacker who can play multiple spots, however. That’s Simpson, a jack-of-all-trades defender who can cause problems as a blitzer and make plays in space.
Sticking with defense the Steelers take a dynamic inside linebacker with their second 2nd Round pick in Trenton Simpson. While Simpson might lack some of the intangibles you want to see in an inside linebacker at the NFL level, he makes up for in athleticism. Could he be the team’s answer for the aforementioned “in the box” player?
80. Pittsburgh Steelers - Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
Veteran Patrick Peterson is a dependable stopgap cornerback for Pittsburgh in 2023, but the Steelers should look to the future with one of their Day 2 picks. Six-foot-2 Rush, who ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the combine, could develop into a solid outside corner.
Entering Round 3 most Steelers fans are likely wondering the same thing, “Where is the cornerback?!” The Steelers address the position in the third round, sounds familiar, with Darius Rush out of South Carolina. Rush’s 4.3 speed is something which jumps off the page, but there is so much more to cornerback play than just straight-line speed.
120. Pittsburgh Steelers: Caleb Murphy, Edge, Ferris State
Adding an EDGE rusher in the early portions of Day 3 is a good move. The Steelers don’t need a pass rusher on the first two days, not if they want to extend Alex Highsmith, so getting someone who is capable of being a rotational piece is a good approach.
234. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brodric Martin, IDL, Western Kentucky
241. Pittsburgh Steelers (from MIN/DEN): Jalen Moreno-Cropper, WR, Fresno State
At this point in the draft you are looking to find players who are able to contribute in some way. However, before fans just toss out the idea of 7th Round picks being useless, there are some recent final round picks who have stuck around.
2021: Tre Norwood & Pressley Harvin
2022: Mark Robinson
These picks might be long-shots, but they also can defy the odds and make the 53-man roster.
It is difficult to predict one round of the NFL Draft, but doing all seven rounds is even more challenging. Nonetheless, what do you think of Reid’s predictions, and would you be happy with the Steelers’ haul if the draft played out this way?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section 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.