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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers add to the defensive front in Round 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers look to add athleticism and depth along the defensive line in this 2024 NFL Draft mock draft.

Florida v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL regular season has yet to kick off, but does that stop anyone from being forward thinking enough to start thinking of the 2024 NFL Draft? Not to the folks at ESPN. A recent mock draft by ESPN’s Jordan Reid is a great example of a way-too-early prediction at what might happen after this upcoming season.

Before fans jump to conclusions about the draft order, here is how they figured it out:

The draft order was determined by the ESPN’s Football Power Index, which is currently giving pick Nos. 1 and 2 to the Cardinals (one of which comes from Houston). Since the common draft era began (1967), the only team to pick 1-2 was the 1992 Colts. In addition to Houston, Carolina and Cleveland have also already dealt their picks, and we’re projecting the Jets’ selection to the Packers based on the conditions of the Aaron Rodgers trade earlier this offseason.

With that said, let’s get to the predictions:

1. Arizona Cardinals - Caleb Williams, QB, USC
2. Arizona Cardinals (via HOU) - Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
4. Indianapolis Colts - Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
5. Los Angeles Rams - Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
6. Tennessee Titans - JC Latham, OT, Alabama
7. Green Bay Packers - Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
8. Washington Commanders - Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas
9. Las Vegas Raiders - Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
10. Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
11. Chicago Bears - Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
12. New England Patriots - Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
13. Atlanta Falcons - Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

14. Pittsburgh Steelers - Maason Smith, DT, LSU

The Steelers don’t have many glaring weaknesses in their starting lineup, but they might be looking for succession plans in multiple areas at draft time next year. They value defensive line depth, and Smith brings high-end traits. There are big expectations for the 6-5, 310-pound interior defender to rebound after he tore his left ACL in the season-opener last season. When healthy, Smith is agile and disruptive, and he can be moved around on the first level.

Potential needs: DL, LB, CB

The Steelers tapping into the defensive line in Round 1 isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but it could equate to a downward trend in Cam Heyward’s overall production. Also, if the team went this direction, it wouldn’t be a first. Two years ago the team drafted DeMarvin Leal in the 3rd Round, and in 2023 they drafted Keeanu Benton with the second of the two 2nd Round picks.

What do you think of this prediction? Let us know in the comment section below!