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Mel Kiper 2-Round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers make some questionable decisions

Mel Kiper stays on-brand with his latest predictions for the Steelers in his 2-Round mock draft.

Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is only weeks away, and that means everyone is trying to put the finishing touches on their draft coverage before the 3-day event takes place at the end of April.

With that said, some NFL Draft “experts” are taken more serious than others. Well, some might not be taken serious, but certainly garner more attention when they put out their latest mock drafts. Of all those pundits, no one gets more criticism than Mel Kiper Jr.

Tuesday Kiper put out a 2-Round mock draft, and for Pittsburgh Steelers fans this is something which certainly will get their attention. Considering the Steelers possess three picks in the Top 50, any 2-Round mock is worth reading. Now, when it comes to Kiper’s decision making in this mock draft, that’s up for debate.

Let’s take a look at how Kiper lays out his 2-Round mock...

Round 1

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

Projected trade: Titans jump eight spots

Here’s a fun deal to think about. Tennessee’s quarterback need has gone under the radar, but Ryan Tannehill is a free agent in 2024 and Malik Willis, who dropped all the way to Round 3 in last year’s draft, really struggled as a rookie, even getting benched late in the season for journeyman Joshua Dobbs. Is it possible the Titans already know Willis is not their QB of the future?

Tennessee would have to give up a lot in this trade — the closest recent comp is the Miami-San Francisco swap in 2021. The 49ers acquired the No. 3 overall pick in that draft for the No. 12 selection, future first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts and a third-rounder in 2022. In this mock scenario, Tennessee would send Arizona picks Nos. 11 and 41 in this draft, plus a 2024 first-round selection and likely either a 2025 first- or second-rounder as well. And don’t forget new Titans general manager Ran Carthon joined the organization from San Francisco.

For the Cardinals, who have one of the league’s worst rosters and don’t need a quarterback, this trade would be about gathering draft capital and speeding up their rebuild, adding premium picks in this draft and down the road. This might be their best-case scenario.

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

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

This is around where we could see a run on receivers. Flowers is actually my top-ranked wideout. I love his explosion and ability after the catch. Pittsburgh’s wideouts had just five touchdown receptions last season, which ranked last in the league. The 5-foot-9 Flowers is a dynamo out of the slot, but he had plenty of grabs lined up outside too. He could be a nice fit with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. Quarterback Kenny Pickett had a special connection with former Pitt teammate Jordan Addison, but I think Flowers would be the better pick for the Steelers.

18. Detroit Lions - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
20. Seattle Seahawks - Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
22. Baltimore Ravens - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
23. Minnesota Vikings - Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Lukas Van Ness, DL, Iowa
25. New York Giants - DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
26. Dallas Cowboys - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
27. Buffalo Bills - Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN/MIA/SF) - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt

Projected trade: Seahawks move into Round 1

There’s a ton of value in trading back into Round 1 to take a player to get his fifth-year option. We’ve seen it twice with quarterbacks in the past decade, with the Ravens trading up for Lamar Jackson (2018) and the Vikings doing it for Teddy Bridgewater (2014). Teams want to have that controllable fifth season. That’s exactly what this deal is for the Seahawks, who might have competition to move up.

To make this deal happen, I’ll project Seattle to give up both of its second-round picks — Nos. 37 and 52. That seems pretty fair. So that means Philly moves down seven picks but adds a prime selection on Day 2 and still owns No. 62. By the way, pick No. 37 is the last of the capital from Denver from the Russell Wilson trade.

30. Seattle Seahawks (via mock trade with PHI) - Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State

Round 2

32. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI) - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

This would be great value for Harrison, a smooth pass protector who started 24 games at left tackle in college. Dan Moore Jr. started there for the Steelers last season, and he ranked 34th among all tackles in pass block win rate. Harrison could compete with Moore from Day 1, but he also could beat out Chukwuma Okorafor on the right side.

33. Houston Texans - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State
34. Arizona Cardinals - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
35. Indianapolis Colts - Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
36. Los Angeles Rams - Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
37. Philadelphia Eagles (via mock trade with SEA through DEN) - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
38. Las Vegas Raiders - O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
39. Carolina Panthers - Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
40. New Orleans Saints - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
41. Arizona Cardinals (via mock trade with TEN) - Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
42. New York Jets (from CLE) - Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
43. New York Jets - Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
44. Atlanta Falcons - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
45. Green Bay Packers - Byron Young, OLB, Tennessee
46. New England Patriots - Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
47. Washington Commanders - Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
48. Detroit Lions - Jack Campbell, ILB, Iowa

49. Pittsburgh Steelers - Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

I filled Pittsburgh’s hole at wideout in Round 1, which means it should focus on the secondary here. The 6-foot-3 Brents could learn the ropes from veteran Patrick Peterson in Pittsburgh. Brents has stellar length and will wrap up in the run game. He tested extremely well at the combine.

For a recap, here are the Top 3 picks for the Steelers in Kiper’s 2-Round mock draft:

Round 1: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Round 2: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Round 2: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

If this is how the draft actually played out, what would you think? Would you be okay with the Steelers taking a wide receiver in the first round? Would you be upset? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason!