The 2023 NFL Draft is nearing, and as the 3-day selection process begins, more and more experts are putting their latest mock drafts out for consumption. As NFL Draft experts go, certain outlets carry more proverbial weight than others, and the experts at ESPN always trend in that direction.
People love to hate Mel Kiper Jr., but he and Todd McShay certainly know how to move the needle when it comes to their monthly projections. As for McShay, he most recently put out a 2-Round mock draft which will have special interest for Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
With the Steelers possessing three picks in the first two rounds, any mock draft which branches out of Round 1 is certainly noteworthy among the fan base. That being said, let’s dive head-first into McShay’s latest mock draft, and who he has the Steelers taking with picks No. 17, 32, and 49.
1. Carolina Panthers (from CHI) - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
2. Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Projected trade: Colts aren’t taking chances
After the Bears traded the No. 1 pick, the Cardinals’ No. 3 pick became highly valuable. It’s apparent two quarterbacks will be drafted with the opening pair of picks, and the QB-needy Colts sit at No. 4. So any team that covets a potential franchise signal-caller better act fast, and moving up to No. 3 is the best bet.
In this scenario, it’s actually Indy that makes the move, sliding up one spot to block any other teams trying to nab a passer and securing its guy in the process. And for Arizona, this is the best-case outcome. The Cards only drop one spot to No. 4, can still draft a dominant defender and pick up something in the ballpark of a third-rounder (No. 79) and a future second-rounder along the way.
3. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with ARI) - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
4. Arizona Cardinals (mock trade with IND) - Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama
5. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
6. Detroit Lions (from LAR) - Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
7. Las Vegas Raiders - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
8. Atlanta Falcons - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
9. Chicago Bears (from CAR) - Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) - Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
11. Tennessee Titans - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
12. Houston Texans (from CLE) - Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
13. New York Jets - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Projected trade: Bucs pounce on a QB
There are a handful of teams in the middle part of Round 1 that would love to land one of the top four quarterbacks, including the Buccaneers. So with Levis sliding a bit here, I bet Tampa Bay would jump at the chance to get ahead of Washington and nab him. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is always open to a trade-back opportunity, so this makes a lot of sense all around. To get it done, I think the Buccaneers would have to surrender the No. 19 selection, a third-rounder (No. 82) and one of their two fifth-rounders (No. 153).
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (mock trade with NE) - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
15. Green Bay Packers - Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
16. Washington Commanders - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Pittsburgh brought in Isaac Seumalo this March to shore up the interior offensive line, but there are still questions at offensive tackle. And protection is key when you have a young QB running the offense. Jones allowed zero sacks over 15 starts last season, showcasing quick feet and explosive upper-body power for the national champion Bulldogs, and he’d be a good value get at this point in the draft. Jones would also help open lanes for Najee Harris in the run game.
18. Detroit Lions - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
19. New England Patriots (mock trade with TB) - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
20. Seattle Seahawks - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
22. Baltimore Ravens - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
23. Minnesota Vikings - Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
25. New York Giants - Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
26. Dallas Cowboys - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
27. Buffalo Bills - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
29. New Orleans Saints (from SF/MIA/DEN) - Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE/DT, Northwestern
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI) - Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
Pittsburgh is typically strong up the middle, and it already has Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi in place. But considering the electrifying rushing attacks that the Steelers face in their division, securing depth at defensive tackle isn’t a bad call. At 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds, Smith’s game is all about power, and he’s a plug-and-play nose tackle in the NFL.
33. Houston Texans - Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
34. Arizona Cardinals - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
35. Indianapolis Colts - Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
36. Los Angeles Rams - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
37. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) - Keion White, OLB, Georgia Tech
38. Las Vegas Raiders - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
39. Carolina Panthers - O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
40. New Orleans Saints - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
41. Tennessee Titans - Drew Sanders, ILB, Arkansas
42. New York Jets (from CLE) - Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
43. New York Jets - Brian Branch, S/CB, Alabama
44. Atlanta Falcons - Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
45. Green Bay Packers - Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
46. New England Patriots - DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
47. Washington Commanders - John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
48. Detroit Lions - Jack Campbell, ILB, Iowa
49. Pittsburgh Steelers - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Steelers replaced Cameron Sutton with Patrick Peterson, who turns 33 this July. Cornerback is a big question mark for them this season, and Smith utilizes his high-end instincts and speed to jump routes and come away with interceptions. He had six over four seasons and joins a team that tied for the league-lead there last season.
When you look at how the board broke for the Steelers, would you be happy with these selections? Or would you have rather seen them go with another prospect(s) who was available at the time they picked?
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 2023 NFL offseason.