The NFL world is about to be turned upside down this week when the 2023 NFL Draft kicks off, and the next few days can be called the calm before the proverbial storm. All 32 teams are preparing their draft boards and getting their ducks in a row before the 3-day selection process starts on Thursday evening.
While this is the week when stories usually surface regarding players who may have off-field issues, causing a slide down draft boards, this is typically when fans and organizations alike are doing all they can to get intel and be ready for their turn in the draft.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, this draft is truly unique on many levels. The organization will have a draft without Kevin Colbert as the General Manager (GM) for the first time in over 20 years. What will Omar Khan and Andy Weidl do this year? Or will it be more of the same with Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II truly calling the shots in the war room?
Speaking of Khan and the front office, they’ve done a masterful job of crafting a roster which doesn’t have any glaring needs in the top round of the draft. When you consider the Steelers most recent 1st Round draft picks, the vast majority have been the best player available at a glaring position of need. Let’s take a quick look:
2016: Artie Burns (CB)
2017: T.J. Watt (OLB)
2018: Terrell Edmunds (Safety)
2019: Devin Bush (ILB) *
2020: No 1st Round Pick (Minkah Fitzpatrick trade)
2021: Najee Harris (RB)
2022: Kenny Pickett (QB)
*- Traded up
Looking at that list, the Steelers have been selecting at positions of need for several years. In 2023, it seems as if the roster was constructed in a way which won’t require the team to do this out of necessity. If the top cornerbacks and/or offensive tackles are long gone before the 17th overall pick, and the Steelers don’t trade up, they can feel confident they can select the best player available at that time.
But the way Khan has run the ship in his short tenure also leaves plenty of questions surrounding if he will be aggressive and trade up to draft a player the organization deems to be a unique talent. The Steelers’ draft capital on Day 2 could provide valuable to the point where they could trade up and draft a player, at any position, they can see starting for the team at said position for well over a decade.
You can’t fault either approach, as long as the pick works out. Devin Bush was a cautionary tale in that regard, mainly due to injury, but the theory remains.
While talking all this out, it becomes clear while the week leading up to the draft could be considered the calm before the storm, it is anything but calm.
Only days remain until the chaos begins...and I know Steelers fans are ready.
(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)