The Steelers wrapped up an exceptional 2023 NFL Draft with three more selections on Friday and another three on Saturday. At pick 32, the Steelers declined all offers, deciding instead to take CB Joey Porter Jr. and bring the legacy prospect home.
At pick 49 the Steelers stood pat again, taking an athletic defensive tackle prospect from Wisconsin, Keeanu Benton. Benton can play Nose Tackle or at the 3-technique for Pittsburgh.
Then in the third round, the Steelers traded back from pick 80 OVR to recoup the 4th round pick (no. 132) they shipped to New England in the move up for Broderick Jones in Round 1. Picking at 93, the Steelers selected TE Darnell Washington out of Georgia.
On Saturday, the Steelers used the 4th rounder they recouped in the trade back from 80 OVR to select OLB Nick Herbig from Wisconsin, brother of Nate Herbig who the team signed in Free Agency just a month before.
Then finally in the 7th round, the Steelers took a 2nd swing at a long, rangy cornerback with the selection of Cory Trice out of Purdue before taking a flier on a versatile offensive lineman out of Maryland, Spencer Anderson.
So how do these picks shake things up in Pittsburgh? Who’s stock is rising and who’s is falling? Let’s take a look.
The Steelers selection Joey Porter Jr. & Cory Trice are big deals for the Steelers pass rush. Improving the secondary only helps give TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Cam Heyward more time to get to QBs and disrupt the play. In an AFC loaded with high-powered offenses and elite QBs, adding physical press corners that can jam receivers and limit their ability to get open quickly will allow Blitzburgh to get home more in 2023.
In an injury-derailed 2022, Witherspoon became an afterthought in the Steelers secondary. That trend continues down with the selections of Porter and Trice, as Witherspoon drops further down the depth chart and could find himself a cut candidate come training camp.
Matt Canada’s Entire Offensive Scheme
Darnell Washington is my favorite pick of the entire draft, because he can literally help your offense in any situation. It’s almost impossible to list all the ways he can help a team’s attack. He never has to leave the field for you. He’s a total mismatch as a pass catcher, and Najee Harris and Kenny Pickett both will appreciate his efforts as a blocker. For Canada’s scheme specifically, Washington will help pave the way for a dynamic run game that will set up everything else the Steelers want to do on offense. It’s a masterful move by Pittsburgh, and a steal in the late 3rd Round.
Red Zone Success Rate
As mentioned above, Darnell Washington gives you so many ways to attack a defense, but especially in tight quarters. With the weapons already at the Steelers disposal, adding Washington should allow the team to improve dramatically in their Red Zone efficiency in 2023. Line up Washington inline and let him push people around for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, or let the 6’7” giant just box out defenders in the end zone. Things are looking up for the Steelers recent red zone woes.
AFC North Rushing Attacks
This isn’t just about the Steelers selection of run-stuffing machine Keeanu Benton, although his presence figures to be a big boost for Pittsburgh on the interior. It’s also about everything the Steelers have done this offseason on the defensive side of the ball, adding physical, downhill hitters at LB in Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts, as well as beefing up the interior of the DL in Free Agency with several depth pickups. The Steelers are returning to smash-mouth football on defense, and that should scare their AFC North counterparts when it comes to running the football.
Family Rooting Interests
Nick Herbig joins his brother in Pittsburgh to create yet another set of bros on the Steelers, following in the footsteps of the Watt Bros, the Heyward Bros, the Edmunds Bros, and the Davis Bros. Though the Edmunds and Davises are gone, the family affair lives on in Pittsburgh. Not to mention Joey Porter Jr. following his dad to the Steel City in what will go down as a truly special moment in Steelers history. Let’s hope that Jr can join his dad as a Super Champion by helping bring home Lombardi number seven to the ‘Burgh!
“The Khan Artist”
The Steelers man of the hour, and really the entire weekend, Omar Khan’s legacy is growing exponentially, with Mike Tomlin doubling down on the popular moniker amongst Steelers Nation for the Steelers GM, labeling him “The Khan Artist” in the duo’s post-draft presser. Khan’s impressive first Draft has hopefully helped open up a Championship window for Pittsburgh over the next few years. In any case, “The Khan Artist” is here to stay, and I love it!
Put it on his name plate : The Khan Artist.pic.twitter.com/OeTGODV0py— BTSC Steelers (@btsteelcurtain) April 29, 2023
Who else’s stock is going up or down after Days 2 & 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to stay tuned for all of BTSC’s draft coverage online and through the Steel Curtain Podcast Network.