The 2023 NFL Draft is roughly six weeks away, and the Steelers are slotted to choose seventeenth general within the first spherical. They additionally personal the highest choose within the second spherical because of the Chase Claypool commerce with the Chicago Bears.
With the NFL Combine giving method to Pro Days, we proceed to undergo mock draft eventualities and mission participant/prospect matches who might curiosity the Steelers given their present wants and the expertise on this upcoming class. Today, I’ll current a situation by which Pittsburgh trades the forty ninth choose within the second spherical to the Los Angeles Rams, who need to get into the second spherical. In return, Los Angeles sends Pittsburgh #69 and #77 within the third spherical, giving Pittsburgh three third-round alternatives.
ROUND 1 (#17 OVERALL) — DEVON WITHERSPOON/CB/ILLINOIS
Analysis: The Steelers have to re-sign Cam Sutton to retain a productive, versatile playmaker on the again finish of the protection. But extra reinforcements are wanted to compete towards the highest WRs within the AFC North. Sutton is an effective participant, however he, Levi Wallace, and Akhello Witherspoon shouldn’t be thought of a #1 CB. Pittsburgh nabs a CB1 right here within the first spherical, deciding on Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon would usually be a top-15 prospect and probably CB1 on this draft class. But his measurement (5’11 1/2”, 181lb, 31 1/4” arms) together with the truth that he hasn’t been in a position to take the sphere in any respect throughout this pre-draft cycle as a result of a nagging hamstring damage might trigger a draft-day slide, leading to CBs like Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter, Jr. to go forward of him. Pittsburgh stops the slide, nabbing a bodily, feisty competitor that embodies what you search for in an NFL cowl man. Witherspoon posted 41 complete stops, 2.5 TFLs, three INTs, and 14 PBUs. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. Witherspoon has the makings of a top quality cowl nook and the demeanor to be a keen, bodily run defender, which Pittsburgh seems to be for in its CBs.
ROUND 2 (#32 OVERALL)— TRENTON SIMPSON/LB/CLEMSON
Analysis: The Steelers have a number of notable wants on the roster, however ILB often is the largest one presently. Devin Bush and Robert Spillane are slated to hit free company and Myles Jack is coming off a down yr, having handled accidents, and has a notable cap hit in 2023. The Steelers want velocity and splash at off-ball linebacker, they usually take their shot on the high of the second spherical with Clemson’s Trenton Simpson.
Simpson is a sight to see as a HWS specimen, standing 6’2, 235lb with spectacular velocity and burst (4.43 40). He has performed each off the ball and on the sting, exhibiting he can rush the passer as a hybrid playmaker on the defensive aspect of the soccer. His scheme match would be the key relating to his means to provide on the subsequent stage. Having a relationship with Mike Tomlin since his freshman yr at Clemson together with logging 23 TFLs, 13 sacks, three compelled fumbles, and 5 PBUs the final three seasons, Simpson is that athletic run-and-chase defender that may make performs and is just scratching the floor of what he can turn out to be.
ROUND 3 (#69 OVERALL VIA LAR)— KEEANU BENTON/DL/WISCONSIN
Analysis: The Steelers want so as to add depth and starters to their defensive position with the variety of upcoming free brokers they determine to have. Keeanu Benton, who might meet each these designations, has improved each season in Madison and established himself as one of many higher inside defensive linemen on this class. He possesses spectacular play power to shed blocks and push the pocket. He is a menace within the run recreation and brings a cross rush to the desk as effectively, having 4 sacks in 2022. Benton had an awesome week on the Senior Bowl and admitted that Tomlin and the Steelers have him on their radar. This squarely locks him in as a possible Day Two choice.
ROUND 3 (#77 OVERALL VIA LAR)— JOE TIPPMANN/C/WISCONSIN
Analysis: Pittsburgh doesn’t need to go removed from Wisconsin for its subsequent choice, electing to remain on the similar faculty and choose C Joe Tippmann with the additional choose acquired from the Rams. Tippmann is an enormous, athletic middle (6’6, 313lb). He can play in a wide range of blocking schemes, having the ability to pull, attain block, climb to the second stage and work out in house, but in addition go straight forward into nostril tackles.
The Steelers met with Tippmann for a proper interview on the Combine, suggesting that there’s no less than some curiosity to pick out him to enhance the OL — whether or not it’s by shifting him to LG to compete with Kevin Dotson or to play C and have Mason Cole transfer to LG to compete with and probably substitute Dotson this season.
ROUND 3 (#80 OVERALL)— MARVIN MIMS/WR/OKLAHOMA
Analysis: While the Steelers have Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin III in tow for subsequent season, Austin is coming off a misplaced yr and proprietor Art Rooney II himself expressed the necessity for the passing recreation to enhance. Pittsburgh goes again to the draft and lands one other nice mid-round worth choice right here in Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims. Mims tore up the Combine, posting a 4.38 40, 10’9” broad, and 39.5” vertical. He can stretch the sphere and make leaping, combative catches regardless of a smaller body (5’11, 183lb). He will get out of his breaks effectively and might stretch the sphere, creating extra splash for a Steelers passing recreation that wants extra explosive performs down the sphere.
ROUND 4 (#120 OVERALL)— ANDREW VORHEES/OL/USC
Analysis: The Steelers double dip on OL because of the additional choose they acquired from Los Angeles, making a “luxury selection” with USC OL Andrew Vorhees. Vorhees tore his ACL on the NFL Combine, placing his 2023 season unsure and NFL Draft inventory in flux. Still, Vorhees will be thought of probably the greatest pure guards on this draft and could be a plug-and-play man when wholesome. Pittsburgh stops his slide right here, opting to probably take a redshirt yr with Vorhees and returning in 2024 to take the LG spot with Tippmann doubtless factoring in at C. In such a situation, that reworked inside OL would function two huge, nasty run blockers.
ROUND 7 (#234 OVERALL)— LONNIE PHELPS/EDGE/KANSAS
Analysis: Pittsburgh takes a web page out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ playbook with assistant GM Andy Weidl within the constructing, taking a shot at a late-round EDGE rusher. Kansas’s Lonnie Phelps matches the invoice of what the staff is in search of on the place, having the dimensions (6’2, 244lb), athleticism (4.55 40, 31 bench reps) and demeanor you need in a Steelers OLB. He performed effectively within the Senior Bowl recreation (two tackles for a loss and a compelled fumble) and spoke about his interplay with Grady Brown as his DC in the course of the week, relishing the chance to be taught from him and writing down the whole lot Brown stated in conferences. Phelps can are available as a rotational cross rusher and play all special-teams models straight away.
ROUND 7 (#241 OVERALL)— P.J. MUSTIPHER/DL/PENN STATE
Analysis: Given the necessity to fill out the DL room, Pittsburgh might elect to spend a number of picks on the defensive position. Penn State’s P.J. Mustipher might go greater than this, however as of now’s slated as a late Day Three choose after tallying simply three sacks in his five-year school profession. Still, Mustipher has the dimensions (6’4, 321lb) and power to be a stout run defender as the subsequent stage in addition to the hassle to push the pocket and strain the QB together with his bull rush. Our workers that went right down to the Shrine Bowl raved about Mustipher and his efficiency in the course of the week. His physique kind might make him a candidate to supply depth at NT in addition to on the 3-technique/4i.