It’s mock draft season now with only four teams left standing this weekend as the rest of the teams have turned their sights to next year, focusing on improving their rosters via free agency and the NFL Draft. Thus, you have fans scrambling to various sits to see who exactly the draftniks and “experts” are projecting their favorite teams to take.
Recently, Josh Edwards of CBS Sports posted his latest edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 Mock Draft, calling it “the perfect plan” for the team to improve the roster from a year ago. Edwards specifically focuses on addressing the offensive line with two picks in the first four rounds while filling needs as CB, LB, and DL in rounds 2-4. His mock draft goes as follows:
Round 1: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Round 2: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Round 2: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Round 3: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
Round 4: Richard Gouraige, OT, Florida
Round 7: Ikenna Enechukwu, EDGE, Rice
Round 7: Drake Thomas, LB, NC State
When looking at this mock draft at face value, Edwards does address several needs that the Steelers currently have on the roster. LT Dan Moore Jr. hasn’t been the top-tier LT you desire in his first two seasons, and while I think that Pittsburgh may sit pact with him for at least another season, drafting Jones who has impressive play strength and athleticism for the position could give the team a franchise blindside protector for Kenny Pickett.
What is interesting is that Edwards goes back to the well in Round 4 with Florida OL Richard Gouraige. While I agree that Gouraige would be a quality investment thanks to his upside, I see him more as a natural fit at OT rather than kicking inside to G like Edwards suggests.
Defensively, I can support the Forbes and Campbell picks as both players figure to be in-play at that stage on Day Two of the draft. Forbes would provide Pittsburgh a long ballhawk that has a knack for taking the football away while Campbell fits the mold of a run stuffer, having great size to play in the box as well as in coverage.
However, the selection of Adetomiwa Adebawore out of Northwestern has me scratching my head as the DL stands 6’2, 280lb and split his time playing inside as a 3-technique as well as on the edge. He has great arm length and a motor to rush the passer but doesn’t fit the mold of what Pittsburgh traditionally looks for in their base DEs, more resembling DL DeMarvin Leal from last year as a bit of a tweener between DL and EDGE.
Edwards hits ILB and EDGE with his final two picks in his mock, selecting EDGE Ikenna Enechukwu who is a raw, but physical specimen that has the size, length, and traits to develop into a capable rotational pass rusher. ILB Drake Thomas would fill the role of Marcus Allen as a core special teamer and potentially Robert Spillane as well as an active off-ball linebacker that has been in on plenty of plays during his time at NC State, racking up 200 total tackles in the last two seasons while notching 13.5 sacks and three INTs in that span.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad mock draft from Edwards as he addressed the OL, DL, CB, and ILB positions with quality investments while adding additional depth at OL, EDGE, and ILB later in the draft. However, I wouldn’t go so far to call this the “perfect” draft plan for the Steelers as the selection of OT Gouraige seems a little redundant instead of drafting an actual IOL. He selected a DL, but not one that matches what the Steelers often look for at the position while bypassing NT completely. He also didn’t address WR either, which will likely be a pick Pittsburgh makes this spring especially after owner Art Rooney II said that the team’s passing game must improve as well as their YAC.
When constructing a mock draft, you’re not likely to hit every single need your team has on its roster with the picks you have (albeit you use a simulator at trade back numerous times). Still, the task is to be as objective as possible in depicting what the Pittsburgh Steelers will actually do come draft day. Therefore, while I do think that Edwards did a good job addressing the positions of need with this exercise, I do think that several things would have to get switched around to make the this the “perfect draft plan” for the Steelers.