With the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine officially over, it is time for the NFL Draft experts to start narrowing their focus for the 2023 draft. While individual schools’ pro days still have yet to take place, it is unlikely many pro day workouts will change the way experts feel about particular prospects.
In other words, the combine was likely the last chance prospects had to drastically change their overall stock prior to the 3-day process at the end of April. And some of those prospects did just that during their tip to Indianapolis this past week.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, their draft needs remain the same, and it isn’t a shock a expert like Todd McShay of ESPN has the team laser-focused on the cornerback position. In McShay’s latest mock draft, he has the Steelers taking a cornerback, but not the player you’d necessarily expect.
Before getting into specifics, it is worth noting McShay has several trades happening in the first round. Let’s take a look at how he sees things shaking out in his Round 1 mock draft.
Let’s get to it...
Projected trade: Colts secure their QB
It’s time for a long-term solution at QB for the Colts, and that might just mean moving to the top of the board. No team scored fewer points than Indianapolis (15.8 per game) last season, the team’s fifth straight season with a new Week 1 starter under center. The Colts will make it six straight, but this time, it should stick. With a handful of QB-needy teams lurking in the top 10 and the Bears listening on trade offers, Indy can get its top choice by jumping the line.
This shouldn’t be shocking. I projected the same move in my last mock, as did our own Matt Miller. My guy Mel Kiper Jr. also had the Bears sliding down in his pre-combine mock, though it was to No. 2 overall. The return would be dictated by just how much Indy falls in love with a specific passer, but I’d guess the package would include something like the No. 4 pick, a second-rounder (No. 35), a fifth-rounder and maybe even a 2024 Round 1 selection. But which QB does Indy take?
With the trade out of the way, here is how McShay sees the rest of the NFL Draft playing out, at least in Round 1.
1. Indianapolis Colts (via mock trade with CHI) - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
2. Houston Texans - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
3. Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama
Projected trade: Bears trade down again
If this comes together, the Bears would be the third team since 1967 to trade twice in the top 10 of a draft, joining the 1983 Oilers and 1997 Jets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. But if the price is right, why not keep moving down? The Bears have Justin Fields under center and plenty of other needs, so draft capital is king for them right now.
Kiper projected a pair of moves for Chicago in his mock, too, though he had them going from No. 1 to No. 2 to No. 4. I’m changing things up, with the Raiders seeking a quarterback in the post-Derek Carr era and moving up from No. 7. I’d imagine the Bears could add at least a third- and fourth-rounder with this move, and Chicago might even be able to get the Raiders’ second-rounder, given Las Vegas’ urgency for a passer. That means GM Ryan Poles could scoop up four or more extra picks across two trades and still only slide to No. 7.
4. Las Vegas Raiders (via mock trades with CHI/IND) - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR) - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
7. Chicago Bears (via mock trade with LV) - Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
8. Atlanta Falcons - Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
9. Carolina Panthers - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
11. Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
12. Houston Texans (via CLE) - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
13. New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
14. New England Patriots - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
15. Green Bay Packers - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
16. Washington Commanders - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Forbes is flying up my board just like he flew in the 40-yard dash on Friday night, posting a 4.35. He has great ball production, picking off 14 passes and breaking up 18 more over three seasons. That fits with the Steelers, who led the league with 20 interceptions last season but could lose Cameron Sutton to free agency. Forbes also measured in at 6-1 and 166 pounds at the combine. Yes, 166 pounds. That might scare some teams off in Round 1, but they shouldn’t discount the high-level instincts and body control that we see on tape.
When you look at players who were selected AFTER the Steelers selected, there will likely be some fans who wouldn’t be ecstatic with the team’s selection. Here is how McShay has the rest of the first round shaking out:
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
20. Seattle Seahawks - Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
22. Baltimore Ravens - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
23. Minnesota Vikings - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
25. New York Giants - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
26. Dallas Cowboys - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
27. Buffalo Bills - Keion White, OLB, Georgia Tech
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN/MIA/SF) - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Derick Hall, DE, Auburn
If you are like me, and don’t know a great deal about individual prospects, here is a draft profile of Forbes, via the Draft Network:
Forbes is an ultra-competitive cover corner. He battles at the catch point when the ball is in flight to force pass break-ups. Forbes is at his best in press alignment where he can disrupt the timing between the wide receiver and quarterback. He offers scheme and coverage versatility. Forbes is experienced in both man and zone coverage schemes. He plays with good instincts, he does a good job working against rub routes and switch releases, and his ball skills are impressive. Forbes makes plays on the football at a consistent and high rate. He processes information quickly before jumping routes. Forbes is a solid contributor in the run game. He is willing to squeeze down and attack the ball carrier’s lower body. Forbes does not mind throwing his body around as a tackler—he plays more physically than his frame would suggest.
Forbes has a slim and slender build. This could create issues versus bigger and more physical NFL receivers. Forbes tends to be a freelancer in coverage, which can be detrimental. His aggression to attack the ball opens him up to double moves. Even in press alignment, his over-aggressiveness leads to missed punches and losing at the line of scrimmage. Also, this leads to him getting out-positioned by opponents and being grabby. He was hit with six penalties this season, the most of his career. There are concerns regarding Forbes’ deep speed to carry routes vertically versus more explosive wideouts. He has to improve and become more technically sound in coverage to prevent being stacked on vertical routes.
Forbes projects as a true perimeter and outside cornerback. I do not envision him sliding into the slot at the next level. Forbes’ ball skills and return ability is an unteachable combination. He has the most pick-sixes in FBS and SEC history. Toning down on aggressiveness and being more disciplined can benefit his NFL future. The development or furthering of his technical process will be important to his ceiling. I believe he can become a CB2 for a defense.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Ball production
- Coverage versatility
- Football intelligence/instincts
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Overly aggressive/takes chances
- Slim build/frame
- Aggressive playstyle
Ideal Role: Outside cornerback
Scheme Fit: Scheme versatile
If this was the Steelers’ first round selection, what would you think? Let us know 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 NFL offseason.