Omar Khan and Andy Weidl continued to reshape the Steelers roster in this year’s NFL draft. Khan and Weidl were very aggressive in bringing in free agents to revamp the interior offensive line and inside linebacker. Pittsburgh would continue their aggressive ways once the draft took place, they did so by making a trade with the Patriots, going from 17 to 14th and selecting offensive tackle Broderick Jones.
Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris had to of had a huge smile on their face once the Steelers selected Broderick Jones. Pittsburgh’s offense can go to new levels with a player of Jones’s caliber, running lanes should open up with more regularity, and Kenny Pickett will now have more time to read the field and make a throw without being under duress. Broderick Jones took 445 snaps last year, and did not allow a sack, he also did not get called for a single false start. Folks, the Steelers have their left tackle of the future.
Had the Steelers stayed put with the 17th pick, there’s a good chance they would’ve taken Joey Porter Jr. instead the hands of fate stepped in, and the Steelers selected Porter Jr. with the 32nd pick instead. Joey Porter Jr. will come in with a chip on his shoulder and can compete for a starting spot right off. Joey Porter Jr. has the size at 6″2 194lbs to stand up to the Bengals receivers, along with the physicality to give them fits.
Sticking with the secondary, the Steelers selected Cory Trice Jr. in the seventh round. Trice fell to the seventh due to some injury concerns, but he’s also seen as a huge value pick. Pittsburgh landed themselves another physical cornerback, Trice played a ton of press coverage at Purdue. Coming off an ACL injury he recorded 34 tackles, two interceptions one of which was a pick six, and had 10 pass breakups. James Pierre and Ahkello Witherspoon should be on notice as Trice should push them for a roster spot.
Somehow a man that stands 6″7 and weighs 265lbs and has an insane amount of athleticism slipped to the third round. This man is also a tight end and goes by the name Darnell Washington. Pittsburgh landed themselves a weapon in Washington as he is basically an extra offensive lineman who can catch, even if he wasn’t used in the passing game as much at Georgia. Darnell Washington and Pat Freiermuth can be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Depth was added to the defensive line during free agency, but they added some extra help when they drafted Keeanu Benton from Wisconsion. Pittsburgh had their eye on Benton all through the pre-draft process and grabbed him with their second, second round pick. Benton has the ability to play all along the defensive line, coming out as a fifth year senior and with his wrestling background he will come to Pittsburgh with a level of polish on him. Keeanu was a much-needed addition to the Steelers defensive line.
Coming into the draft, the Steelers were lacking depth at outside linebacker, and filled that hole by drafting Nick Herbig. In his final two seasons with Wisconsin Herbig recorded, 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 30 tackles for loss. Some scouts have also said that Herbig could be better suited for inside linebacker as he’s a bit light for outside linebacker, a move that could be made down the road. For now, Herbig will come in as a situational pass rusher and to give TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith a breather.
Spencer Anderson was the last of the Steelers picks in the seventh round. While at Maryland, Anderson played tackle, guard and center. Anderson started 13 games in 2022, 12 of which were at right guard the other was at left guard. Having the versatility can only help him come training camp.
Top to bottom, this is one of the more complete drafts the Steelers have had in some time. Pittsburgh came away as huge winners filling a number of needs. One of the more important things to take away from the offseason so far is that Omar Khan is not scared to be aggressive.