We are less than three weeks away from the 2023 NFL Draft, and things are continuing to shape into form. With pro days in the rearview mirror, pre-draft visits in full swing, and draft boards in the refinery, it is time for my annual Dreams vs. Reality mock draft article.
Typically, I only project what I think the Steelers will do in the draft, but at times, it can be a challenge, as I often find myself in opposition to the selections I could see the Steelers making. To resolve this issue for at least a day, I am going to compare my ideal mock draft to what I predict the Steelers to do, as of today’s date. Much will happen to change it in the two weeks leading up to the draft, but as my draft rankings enter the finalization period, I have a pretty good idea as to what I want to happen. Ultimately, it now comes down to determining what the Steelers may do in reality. Perhaps this exercise will give the reader a little extra perspective.
If you have any thoughts on these selections, feel free to share in the comment section below. But without further ado, it is time to break down the annual Dreams vs. Reality mock draft!
Round 1, Pick 17: Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State
Next best option: Trade back
Titans receive pick 32
Steelers receive picks 41 147, 186, and 2024 3rd round pick
Round 2, Pick 41: Sydney Brown | S | Illinois
Next best option: DJ Turner, CB, Michigan, Trenton Simpson, ILB, Clemson
Round 2, Pick 49: Mazi Smith | DT | Michigan
Next best options: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois, Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Round 3, Pick 80: Blake Freeland | OT | BYU
Next best option: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Round 4, Pick 120: Bryce Ford-Wheaton | WR | West Virginia
Next best option: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
*Round 5, Pick 147: Dorian Williams | ILB | Tulane
Next best option: Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan
*Round 6, Pick 186: Jake Andrews | C/G | Troy
Next best option: SirVocea Dennis | ILB | Pittsburgh
Round 7, Pick 234: Steven Gilmore | CB | Marshall
Next best option: Anthony Kendall, CB, Baldwin-Wallace
Round 7, Pick 241: Davis Allen | TE | Clemson
Next best option: Joey Fisher, OT, Shepherd
Round 1, Pick 17: Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia
It threw many, including myself, for a loop when it was reported that Pittsburgh had reached out to Orlando Brown in free agency. After having signed free-agent guard Isaac Seumalo, it seems as if the new front office may be prioritizing the line, unlike many close to the team had expected. Jones has the size, youth, and pedigree the Steelers look for in the early rounds of the draft.
Round 2, Pick 32: Julius Brents | CB | Kansas State
One of the biggest risers of the pre-draft process, Brents is a long-limbed corner who uses his size to his advantage, getting good position against receivers at the line and bumping receivers off their route. The Steelers need cornerback help desperately, and if the top three corners are gone at Pick 17, it may be wise to wait on the position. Perhaps Brents will intrigue the Steelers if available at 32.
Bears receive picks 49 and 80
Steelers receive picks 61 and 64
Round 2, Pick 61: Jonathan Mingo | WR | Ole Miss
The Steelers have shown interest in Mingo, as well as a bevy of other big-bodied slot receivers. While I could see the Steelers reaching for him at 49, I do know the Steelers would like to trade down from one of their top three picks, and this range makes a lot more Sense for Mingo.
Round 3, Pick 64: Keeanu Benton | DT | Wisconsin
The Steelers have been very open about their interest in Benton, but the same can be said for Gervon Dexter and Mazi Smith. At the end of the day, it all comes down to value, and if the Steelers can get a better bang for their buck at other positions early on, this position may have to wait longer than expected to be addressed.
Round 4, Pick 120: JL Skinner | S | Boise State
Skinner would have had an opportunity to rise to the number one safety in this class, but a pectoral injury kept him out of pre-draft training and testing. Regardless, he is a dynamic athlete who could develop into a starting strong safety.
Round 7, Pick 234: Clayton Tune | QB | Houston
The Steelers only have two quarterbacks currently (Pickett, Trubisky), but they usually enter training camp with four. If this continues to be the case in 2023, expect the team to add one during the draft. Tune is a prototypical pocket passer who lacks ideal arm strength but possesses good accuracy. He is an intriguing late-round option.
Round 7, Pick 241: Henry To’oTo’o | ILB | Alabama
To’oTo’o’s stock has plummeted over the past year, having a mediocre 2022 season and poor combine performance. At only 227 pounds, the Tennessee transfer ran a 4.62 at the combine. To make matters worse, his tape is all over the place, with constant occurrances of him struggling to get off blocks. If he is available in Round 7, I could see the Steelers taking a shot on him, as they still lack depth at the position.
Which mock draft do you like better? Do you think either of these are realistic? Let us know your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!