The 2023 NFL Draft is just weeks away, and every outlet who provides draft content is going insane with their content. With the draft becoming arguably the biggest event on the NFL calendar outside of the Super Bowl, it makes sense.
Nonetheless, what is often difficult to decipher is what will actually happen on draft day. Draft day trades, shocking picks and positional “runs” can change the complexity of the draft.
With that being said, it’s time for a feature I used to do but got away from the past few draft seasons. It’s the Steelers draft scenarios where I run a mock draft simulation, then decipher what the best pick would be for the Steelers.
For these articles I used the the Pro Football Network mock simulator. I didn’t accept any trade offers, but just played it out as the board fell.
In this scenario, there is the expected run on quarterbacks which happens earlier than many are expecting. The Panthers go with Stroud over Young, but that doesn’t really impact the Steelers at No. 17. When Levis goes to Seattle, and two EDGE players are selected in the Top 10, that impacts how things roll out for Pittsburgh.
With only Christian Gonzalez off the board at the cornerback position, it leaves both Devon Witherspoon and Joey Porter Jr. available at the cornerback position. The run on offensive tackles has left the Steelers will only a handful of options at the position, mainly Darnell Wright and Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma.
Let’s take a look at how things play out up until pick No. 17...
1. Carolina Panthers — C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
2. Houston Texans — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
3. Arizona Cardinals — Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
4. Indianapolis Colts — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
5. Seattle Seahawks — Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
6. Detroit Lions — Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
7. Las Vegas Raiders — Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via trade with ATL) — Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
9. Chicago Bears — Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
10. Philadelphia Eagles — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
11. Tennessee Titans — Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
12. Houston Texans — Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
13. New York Jets — Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
14. New England Patriots — Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
15. Green Bay Packers — Jordan Addison, WR, USC
16. Washington Commanders — Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Looking at what’s available, and the Steelers having pick No. 32, I decided to take the player I think best fits what the Steelers want to do on the defensive side of the ball.
Sure, it would be nice to add a Darnell Wright, but I’m not sold on him being the long-term answer at offensive tackle. Instead, I decided to go with a defensive back, and it isn’t the player many are expecting as a legacy Steeler.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers — Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The description for Witherspoon on PFN tells the tale:
Aggressive. Physical. Confident. If you watch Witherspoon play, and those aren’t the first words that come to mind, we’re watching different players. Like Sauce Gardner from the 2022 class, Witherspoon has the utmost belief in his ability to shut down the man across from him.
What he lacks in size at 6’0″ and 180 pounds, he doubles with sheer effort and will. He sets the tone in the secondary with energetic and violent plays, both with the ball in the air and on the ground.
Witherspoon coming into the Steelers’ defensive secondary will make the defense better, and will hopefully provide an anchor on the outside for years to come.
This decision wasn’t an easy one, not with the aforementioned players still on the board. Nonetheless, I made the call to go with Witherspoon over Porter Jr. What would you do? 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 2023 NFL offseason.