In what has become an annual exercise, ESPN NFL Draft pundits Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. put together their “alternating mock draft”. In this mock draft the two take turns making selections. In years past, this meant teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers would end up having one of the two pundits, most often Kiper, make all of the selections in the 3-Round prediction.
But this year, with only 31 first round picks, there is a mix of who made the picks for the black-and-gold. For those who aren’t familiar with this mock draft, here is a basic rundown:
They took turns making selections, alternating from Mel’s pick for the Panthers at No. 1 through Todd’s prediction for the Niners’ compensatory slot at No. 102. Mel has the odd numbers; Todd has the evens.
An important note for this mock, though: They based picks on a combination of what they think each team will do and what they would do if they were playing general manager for all 32 teams. They used their personal rankings to guide them. No trades allowed here, either. Eight teams make at least four picks, and all 32 franchises have at least one selection — though the Broncos, Browns and 49ers all have to wait until Round 3.
With all the preliminary talk out of the way, let’s get to the selections. If you want to see the full rundown of each draft, check out the ESPN article HERE:
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kiper’s pick: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
What a landing spot for one of my favorite prospects in this class. Flowers can play inside or outside, and he can make defenders miss after the catch. The Steelers can fill their need at cornerback in Round 2.
This pick should shock no one considering this was the same pick Kiper made with his most recent solo mock draft. Do the Steelers need to have a wide receiver be their top pick? No, but he certainly could be a valuable weapon to the offense from Day 1.
For those wondering, the offensive tackles were off the board by pick No. 17, but the Steelers not only passed on Jordan Addison to take Flowers, per Kiper, but the team also passed on Joey Porter Jr., who didn’t get picked until No. 23 by the Minnesota Vikings.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI) - McShay’s pick: Brian Branch, S/CB, Alabama
DJ Turner (Michigan) would also be a good get for the cornerback room here, but I really love Branch’s versatility. Pittsburgh could line him up over the slot as a rookie, before dropping him to safety down the road.
Branch being the pick at No. 32 is good value for a player many consider to be a potential first round pick. Considering the need at both slot CB and safety, this pick makes sense by McShay.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kiper’s pick: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
We’re doing a nice job tag-teaming Pittsburgh’s top needs, Todd, but one remains. I actually had this pairing at No. 32 overall in my two-round mock draft. Harrison could immediately challenge Dan Moore Jr. for the starting left tackle spot.
Of course the Steelers will take a tackle in Round 2, and of course Kiper sticks to his guns with the same pick he made in his previous mock draft. Harrison wouldn’t necessarily be a Day 1 starter, but would compete with Dan Moore Jr., but more likely would be a swing tackle in 2023.
80. Pittsburgh Steelers - McShay’s pick: Daiyan Henley, ILB, Washington State
After Devin Bush didn’t work out in Pittsburgh, the Steelers signed Cole Holcomb in March. But the linebacker depth isn’t great, and Henley has the burst to make plays.
On the second round of Day 2, the Steelers attempt to take another mid-round pick and see if they can turn this player into an ILB of the future. They’ve tried multiple times to fill the vacancy since Ryan Shazier’s injury, and failed every time. Henley, like Harrison, wouldn’t be a Day 1 starter, but could make an impact in certain situations and on special teams.
If this was how the 2023 NFL Draft went for the Steelers, how would you feel about the Top 4 picks? Let us know your thoughts 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.