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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers add a physical CB with their top pick

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers go with a cornerback with size and physicality.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are pushing through the 2023 offseason. With free agency slowing down, the NFL draft later this month is where most teams will be adding significant pieces for 2023 and beyond. The Steelers have already added many free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. After the gains and losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or defensive line with their first-round pick. Others feel inside linebacker or cornerback could be on top of the list. With the Steelers shaping their roster prior to April, their goal of getting into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position seems to be within reach. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In a recent mock draft by CBS Sports, they have the Steelers addressing the cornerback position before anything else. With the Steelers needing to infuse some youth at the position, it is one they will almost certainly address at some point in the upcoming draft. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the Steelers 17th pick:

17. Pittsburgh Steelers | Deonte Banks. | CB | Maryland | Jr. |

Although it’s getting later in the draft process, there may be some players fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Banks according to

Deonte Banks NFL Draft Scouting Report

CB, Maryland Terrapins

Deonte Banks has been a contributor on defense since his freshman year (2019) and has played in 30 career games. Banks’ 2021 season ended early due to an injury, but he returned for the 2022 season as the starting corner and had his best season overall. Banks had 38 total tackles, eight pass break-ups, and one interception. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Banks profiles as a big, physical corner who has surprisingly smooth transitions in and out of breaks to match and mirror wide receivers.

Banks has shown the ability to play both press and odd coverage at a high level. In press, Banks shows to be very physical and wants to get into physical combat with receivers because he is confident in his natural strength to disrupt the timing of their release and route. Once into the route, Banks can stay on top of receivers or play a trail technique—he is able to show off his athleticism in either. Banks has smooth, fluid hips and can sink in and out of breaks to stay in phase with receivers to make a play on the football. At the catch point, Banks has the awareness and the length to challenge receivers for the football and make catches difficult to make. In off-coverage, Banks is able to come out his back pedal quickly, plant, and drive to break up passes on underneath routes as a physical defender.

Banks is a physically impressive cornerback with plus-level height and length. He also has rare reactionary athleticism for a corner his size, showing the ability to flip his hips run vertical, then sink his hips and break back downhill toward the ball.

Banks’ improvements as a player stem from his improving his ability to be consistent in his technique. In press coverage Banks tends to get too aggressive and will two-hand jam receivers which could lead to him missing and them being able to stack him vertically or resulting in him having to grab and hold defenders. Banks also shows a tendency to hold and grab defenders throughout the route, which could result in pass interference penalties in the NFL. Banks is a plus-level athlete but not elite to the point where his athleticism can naturally make up for his flaws in his lack of technique. For Banks to be effective in man-to-man coverage, he has to be consistent with his technique. Banks also needs to improve his discipline in zone coverage. He is aggressive to attempt to jump passes and leaves himself vulnerable to double moves and giving up big plays.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

Plus-level size and length

Good reactionary athleticism

Physical press corner

Top Reasons For Concern:

Injury concerns

Top-end speed

Lack of production in passing game

Inconsistent technique

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Banks with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, this position should be avoided, or that Banks won’t be around at the 17th pick? Personally, Banks is on my radar for the Steelers but further down the list than other players. But for this particular draft with three cornerbacks and four tackles already off the board, I think Banks would have been my selection as well. Thanks to Sean Davis, I’m still leery of secondary players coming from Maryland, but hopefully Banks can break that mold. While I don’t disagree with the pick in this scenario, I’m hoping that the Steelers have a better option at 17 on the night of April 27th where I would be more excited.

Note: This series began in January and will run all the way up to the 2023 NFL Draft. Each week highlights a new player. For this reason, sometimes it takes an outside-the-box mock draft in order to highlight a different possibility. These mock drafts are in no way an endorsement from BTSC.