Carney: Steelers’ Post All-Star 2023 Mock Draft (Version 1.0)

Now that we’re beyond the All-Star pre-draft circuit featuring the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Hula Bowl, East-West Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl, draft season speeds ahead towards the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, and then Pro Days after that.

It’s fully draft season here at Steelers Depot as we continue to churn out draft profiles on prospects aiming to enter the NFL this year. With that, I felt it was a good time to roll out my first mock draft of the season.

I usually like to think of what the Steelers will do in my mocks, aiming for the most realistic one as possible. It’s important to remember that this is just an initial version, and things will change — probably drastically — between now and my final mock in late April prior to the start of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments section below. And please, no “he won’t be there” comments. It’s January. Evaluate the player and the fit, not the slot.


One of my personal favorites in this draft class, Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois just plays like a Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback. With Cameron Sutton set to hit free agency and big salary cap decisions needing to be made on Ahkello Witherspoon and William Jackson III, cornerback is the top need for the Steelers this offseason, at least in my view.

While I fully expect Sutton to be re-signed before free agency starts, the need at cornerback is a great one. In steps Witherspoon, who was the top defensive back in college last season and won the prestigious Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award in the Big Ten. A physical cornerback that loves to come downhill and stick his face in the fan, Witherspoon has the mentality to thrive in the Steelers’ system, which requires that from its corners. Add in his terrific coverage and ball skills, and ability to float between the boundary and the slot, he’s an ideal fit.


No player may have improved his stock more in the All-Star circuit than Ohio State’s Dawand Jones. A mammoth of a man at 6081, 375 pounds, Jones showed good feet and hand usage in his lone practice of the week in Mobile, dominating from start to finish that day against all comers, really turning heads.

Jones has the ability to float between left and right tackle, though he feels like he’s mostly a right tackle exclusive guy entering the NFL, which is where he played in college. The Steelers showed a lot of interest in Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele in the 2022 NFL Draft and missed out on the large human when the Ravens selected him. They won’t miss on their target on the offensive line this time, getting a key piece to infuse into the OL room in Jones.


The Steelers desperately need to add some high-end youth to an aging defensive line that is overall lacking depth. While I do believe Larry Ogunjobi will be retained after a strong 2022 season before hitting free agency, there is still the serious need to add to a group that has struggled with depth and overall production at times in recent seasons.

Benton has been on the Steelers’ radar all season and had a strong week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Measuring in at 6034, 312 pounds, Benton checks a lot of the boxes the Steelers look for in that 3-tech defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. He’s going to be a popular name connected to the Steelers moving forward in the draft process and makes a ton of sense as a great fit in the defensive front.


Pittsburgh needs a serious upgrade at inside linebacker after Devin Bush never quite panned out due to injury, and Myles Jack couldn’t stay healthy last season, leading to Robert Spillane being the top linebacker in the room. Spillane, Bush and Marcus Allen are all set to hit free agency, the Steelers have a real need at the position. There’s high hopes for Mark Robinson to ascend in his second season, Jack to stay healthy and Spillane to return at a reasonable price, but the group needs an infusion of talent.

That’s exactly what To’oTo’o is. He starred at Tennessee before transferring to Alabama for his final two years and is a very intriguing off-ball linebacker that can slot in nicely as the MACK or the BUCK in the Steelers’ scheme.


This might be a bit earlier than many are initially thinking, but after his performance at the Senior Bowl and as more and more people get familiar with his game, Dell is going to start generating a ton of buzz. Though he’s just a decent route runner that needs some development there, Dell has some exceptional abilities after the catch, and would give the Steelers a dynamic weapon in the passing game for quarterback Kenny Pickett moving forward.

He can also handle some return duties and would pair very nicely with the hopeful return of Calvin Austin III to give the Steelers legitimate home run speed with the football in their hands offensively.


After grabbing Dawand Jones at the top of round two to address the tackle position, the Steelers desperately need to address the interior of the offensive line from a depth standpoint. Carvin is that guy for me. A five-year starter and team captain at Tennessee, Carvin saw action at left guard, center and right guard during his time on Rocky Top, playing two years in a pro-style scheme and two years in a spread.

He’s held his own against some elite-level talent over the years in the SEC, too, and would be a strong fit as a versatile depth piece in Pittsburgh on a rookie deal.


Admittedly, this is a lot later than I really wanted to address the EDGE position for the Steelers, but after seeing Jones up close and in person at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas, he’s definitely a guy worth taking a late-round flier on. Measuring in at 6046, 250 with 33 1/2-inch arms, Jones is extremely well built for an EDGE rusher. He flashed some solid moves as a pass rusher throughout the week and played well against the run in team sessions.

At Louisiana, Jones recorded 7.5 sacks last season for the Ragin’ Cajuns and finished his career with 17.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss over four seasons. He’s a developmental piece worth taking a shot on, though it does not address the EDGE depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith well enough.

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