Somehow the months of all-star games, watching tape, looking at combine metrics, tracking interviews, pro-day visits, and everything in between have come down to this. There’s officially less than one week left until the NFL draft where we all get to find out who will dawn the black and gold for years to come.
As is the Steelers’ way in Kevin Colbert’s last hoo-rah, the team filled up just about every hole on this roster in some way shape, or form this offseason. Year after year they try to eliminate as many areas of need as possible to allow them to be relatively wide open when it comes to choosing players in the draft. With the latest re-signing of Terrell Edmunds, the team has filled up their last true hole in their 22 starting positions.
While it allows them to be relatively free and take more of a ‘best player available’ approach, I still wanted to address some positions in my mock draft that I believe the Steelers front office will be looking to add some depth to. It’s important to note that, this mock is what I think the Steelers will do, not what I would necessarily do if I had the keys.
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Make sure you let me know what you think of the picks below in the comments!
ROUND 1 (#20 OVERALL) — DESMOND RIDDER/QB/CINCINNATI — 6033, 211 LBS.
Analysis: We all weren’t gifted with a layup this year as many of us were able to connect the dots between Najee Harris and the Steelers prior to the draft last season. While there seems like there is similar interest between Malik Willis and the Pittsburgh organization, I’m not entirely sure that he’ll fall enough for the Steelers to feel comfortable going up to get him. Therefore, I see them being able to sit back, not pilfering their 2023 draft picks for the next GM’s first draft, and picking another quarterback they have heavy interest in, Desmond Ridder.
Ridder has been described as “a grown-a** man” by some NFL execs around the league. Long story short, he’s already a father, a proven leader, and was able to turn Cincinnati into a winning program for four-straight years. It’s easy to see that the Steelers’ front office could feel comfortable handing him the keys to the franchise.
Ridder isn’t without his faults as it’s been well documented that he can be inconsistent with his accuracy. While it may not be wise to think it all can be fixed, Ridder acts like a professional with his craft and the arrow has always been pointing up through his career. There was no regression on a year-to-year basis, and he played some of his best ball down the stretch. Hopefully, that arrow can continue to point up in Pittsburgh.
Others Considered: Matt Corral QB – Ole Miss, Jordan Davis DL – Georgia, Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
ROUND 2 (#52 OVERALL) — SKYY MOORE/WR/WESTERN MICHIGAN — 5095, 195 LBS.
Analysis: While most holes have been filled on this roster, the Steelers’ slot receiver spot is one of the biggest question marks as they head into the season. There wasn’t a ton of noted Steelers interest in Skyy Moore pre-draft, but it may not have been needed as Mike Tomlin is well-acquainted with Moore as he was Tomlin’s son’s quarterback in high school at Shady-Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Moore would fit perfectly into this Pittsburgh receiver’s room as there isn’t really anyone that fits his frame and skill set. His quick-twitch route running combined with his toughness to catch over the middle of the field would suit him well to get on the field immediately in Pittsburgh. The Steelers also love their versatility with their guys, Moore could easily be shifted inside and out, as needed, as he has enough route-running ability and speed to be able to play all receiver spots in this offense.
Others Considered: George Pickens WR – Georgia, DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M, Jaquan Brisker S – Penn State
ROUND 3 (#84 OVERALL)— NICK CROSS/S/MARYLAND — 6001, 212 LBS.
Analysis: Nick Cross presents our second Mike Tomlin connection that I see coming true come draft day. Cross was Tomlin’s son’s roommate during his time at the University of Maryland. If you have ever been to college and shared a room with someone, there’s truly no better way to learn about a person. Assuming Cross passed that test, he’s not too bad of a prospect either.
He fits exactly what the Steelers look for in the safety position, as outlined by Alex Kozora’s ‘What The Steelers Look For’ series. Cross could use the time on the roster and be groomed while they have at least one more year of Terrell Edmunds’services at strong safety. His downhill, physical style suits him well in the strong safety position.
Others Considered: Danny Gray WR – SMU, Myjai Sanders EDGE – Cincinnati, Coby Bryant CB – Cincinnati
ROUND 4 (#138 OVERALL) — MAX MITCHELL/OT/Louisiana — 6062, 307 LBS.
Analysis: While the Steelers just spent a ton of money on the offensive line during free agency, the cupboard is relatively bare in terms of depth at the tackle position. With the release of Zach Banner, the team is left with the likes of Joe Haeg and Chaz Green.
A developmental tackle out of Louisiana and former teammate of Kevin Dotson, Max Mitchell could challenge for the Steelers swing-tackle position on day one. He was moved back and forth from left and right tackle during his time with the Rajun’ Cajuns, sometimes even in the middle of drives, so the moving will not affect him. That versatility is all so important when dressing linemen on game day. Ideally, he’s best as a right tackle that you could see possibly pushing Chukwuma Okorafor off the roster down the road if he develops.
Others Considered: Bryon Cook S – Cincinnati, Alontae Taylor DB – Tennessee, Justyn Ross WR – Clemson
ROUND 6 (#208 OVERALL) — NEIL FARRELL JR./DL/LSU — 6041, 330 LBS.
Analysis: With Tyson Alualu coming off of injury and likely in his last year in the NFL the Steelers’ defensive tackle depth is almost non-existent. You’d like to assume they found a long-term diamond in the rough in Montravius Adams, but only time will tell if he was only a flash in the pan. The twins of Khalil and Carlos Davis are not anywhere near locks to make the roster either.
Neil Farrell Jr. could add some new blood into the defensive line room. During his time at the Senior Bowl, he was named the top defensive lineman of the week for the American Team. Farrell Jr. is more of a two-down gap plugger, that could significantly help with a run defense that greatly struggled in 2021. His 330+ pound frame commands double teams and could help free up the off-ball linebackers in Pittsburgh.
Others Considered: Ty Chandler RB – UNC, Jalen Nailor WR – Michigan State, Joey Blount S – Virginia
ROUND 7 (#225 OVERALL) — ISIAH PACHECO/RB/RUTGERS — 5103, 216 LBS.
Analysis: The Steelers have drafted a running back every year in the draft dating back to 2017. Looking at their current depth chart of Najee Harris, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., and Trey Edmunds, unfortunately, it looks like they may be in store for another running back to be injected into this roster.
Isaih Pacheco was tied for the fastest timed 40-yard dash (4.37) by a running back at the 2022 NFL Combine. While he obviously has speed, he’s ready to smack you in the mouth as well. His pass protection is NFL-ready and when you turn on his tape, his snap to snap effort is hard to be matched, as he plays every play like it’s his last. He could be a hidden gem due to playing behind the lame Rutgers offensive line.
Others Considered: Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Michigan State, Quentin Lake S – UCLA, Tariq Castro-Fields CB – Penn State
ROUND 7 (#241 OVERALL) —ALI FAYAD/EDGE/WESTERN MICHIGAN — 6020, 248 LBS.
Analysis: I think the Steelers’ outside linebacker depth may be one of the biggest needs on this team, so I was upset that we’re all the way down to the seventh round before we address it, but here we are. We go back to the Steelers well of the MAC to hopefully find another OLB that they can mold under the watchful eyes of Brian Flores.
Ali Fayad was the 2021 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, who was able to rack up 13 sacks and 17.5 TFLs during his final year with the Broncos. He was able to win in all types of ways in MAC, whether he was running around, through, or spinning around tackles, he could find his way to the quarterbacks. He does a fair job of setting the edge against the run.
Others Considered: Decobie Durant CB – South Carolina St., Mark Robinson LB – Ole Miss, Eric Johnson DL – Missouri State