The NFL Draft has now concluded. Which means we need to analyze the picks the Steelers actually made. After hundreds, thousands, of Mock Drafts from analysts, what picks or predictions made the most sense and grade the best. Grading Pittsburgh 2023 Draft.
Round 1. P14: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
In our Mock Draft last week, I projected the Steelers to trade up top get the 9th overall pick from the Bears. Which they did trade up but, instead it was to the 14th from the 17th. While we didn’t get the projected pick of Paris Johnson Jr., OT out of Ohio State, we did get the second mentioned guy. Nailed the trade and the position on this one. Building on the Pickett Fence, the o-line, Jones brings dominance. He has good lateral movement and hands to keep up with most defensive lines. Allowing just two sacks throughout college, and only three hurries. All of his 1300+ snaps where played at LT in 2022 and 2021. He’s a guy that will come in and have to put in some work to be elite. But nonetheless its a great pick up to start the draft for the Steelers.
Pick Grade: A-
Round 2, P32: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Another great pick up for the Steelers, projected with our trade the Steelers lost the 32nd pick. But in reality they held on and was able to get the CB they really wanted instead of settling for quick DJ Turner out of Michigan. Nailed the position, Two for Two, not to shabby. Also a legacy, Steelers love the “bloodline”. Joey Porter Sr. was also drafted by and played for Pittsburgh. A huge value for the 32nd pick, at the 17th overall ranked prospect and 3rd CB in this years draft. A corner with great straight-line speed, IQ, and size, Porter is ready for reps in the league now. The Steelers have to be happy where they got this pick up, a needed position, and possibly the best player that was available at the time.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 2, P49: Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
Though our third pick was changed from where I thought it would be, we still got the position right. Benton, Defensive Tackle out of Wisconsin, Steelers pick up a long term solution for the defensive front. An overpowering tackle that using strength and his technical handwork to apply pressure and get into the back field. Having 9 sacks in 4 years of college and 36 tackles in 2022 he will have to continue to adjust to beat some of the better O-Lines throughout the next level. He is noted to have a very limited tackle window on NFL’s prospects site. Overall, this could have been a pick up in the third round, with some other valuable pieces still on the board.
Pick Grade: A-
Round 3, P93: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Our second Bulldog in the draft was not what I expected to see us draft. Putting us 3 for 4 on position pick in order. A Tight End will definitely help Najee Harris, with hands to catch when he isn’t helping the Pickett Fence. Washington didn’t see a ton of action for Georgia’s passing game, but his toughness and strength as a run-blocking tight end may be exactly what Steeler Nation needs. Nabbing 28 catches for over 450 yards and two tuddy’s, Washington was originally seen as a first-round pick, but with injury concerns he fell to the third round for Pittsburgh to scoop up. A great value pick again and will add to the receiving and tight end competition.
Pick Grade: A-
Round 4, Pick 132: Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin
If it wasn’t for a pick trade, we not only would have gotten the player correct, it would have been on the exact pick. Instead we must settle for just knabbing the correct player, Nick Herbig, brother of Nate Herbig. As Mentioned the Steelers are for the “bloodline”. This maybe, by far, my favorite pick in the draft, maybe its because we projected it, but either way. Our second Badger this draft, Nick earned it, three years in Wisconsin, 21 sacks, 11 in 2022, and 47 total tackles. Not to mention, four forced fumbles, and 36 tackles for loss. A perfect fit alongside T.J. Watt, strong IQ, could be an early starter for Pittsburgh.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 7, P241: Cory Trice, CB, Purdue
This is where the Steelers easily secure an A+ grade. Trice was projected as the 118th overall prospect. Grabbing him in the seventh-round is automatic. Steelers second corner of the draft, where anyone would be happy with either a safety or corner, this is the best pick available on the board. Cory will remain a long term project, as opposed to his outside counter part in Porter, who will be an instant-impact player. A great man coverage corner, with ability to adapt with his football intelligence to more zone if needed. Trice could be a favorite for slot corner by mid-season.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 7, P251: Spencer Anderson, C, Maryland
Starting and ending with an offensive lineman is never a bad omen. Though Anderson wont be a day one, every snap lineman, he still has some explosive tendencies that will earn him a fair share of snap percentage. His strength and versatility to move along the Pickett Fence. This isn’t like the rest of the picks of “we can’t believe we got him there” because he was initially ranked 320th on ESPN’s prospect list. But he will be a great utility lineman for Pittsburgh.
Pick Grade: B
Overall Grade: A+
The Steelers, humbly, stole this years draft with picks like Cory Trice, Nick Herbig, Joey Porter Jr., and Keeanu Benton. All players that fell well below where they were projected, two legacy players, and majority are day one impact players. How could the Steelers not have an A grade? Bringing in players that are not only great in their own right, but bringing in players that compliment who Pittsburgh currently has, and what they’re planning for, is a massive W.