2023 NFL Draft

Mock Draft Monday: Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 Mock Draft: February 13

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is officially in the books with the team finishing with an 9-8 record but failing to make the playoffs. With the season now in the rearview mirror, many will turn their attention toward the offseason and more specifically the 2023 NFL Draft. Now that Pittsburgh has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, they are slotted to pick 17th overall in the first round and own the top pick in the second round thanks to the Chase Claypool trade with the Chicago Bears.

While we still have the all-star games, NFL Combine, and Pro Day upcoming prior to the draft this spring, it’s never too early to go through mock draft scenarios and project player/prospect fits who the Steelers may be interested in given their current needs on the roster and the talent in this upcoming draft class.


Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers face tough decisions along the defensive front with Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, and Chris Wormley all scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, leaving the team sorely needing quality starters and depth upfront. Instead of bringing back multiple veterans on contract extensions, they could opt to inject more youth upfront with a player like Clemson’s Bryan Bresee.  Bresee is a young, raw defensive linemen that needs refinement in his technical development of the game as well as improve hand usage as a pass rusher, but the ceiling is immense.

His athletic ability at his size is impressive and he can move all over the defensive front. While I was not as high on Bresee in my pre-draft profile, he possesses all the qualities the Steelers look for in their defensive lineman and HC Mike Tomlin has already become acquainted with Bresee at Clemson’s Pro Day in 2022. He could be Pittsburgh’s answer at DE opposite Cam Heyward as he hopes to develop into an impact player at the next level.


Analysis: Pittsburgh has a well-established history of drafting receivers in the second round, most recently selecting George Pickens last season with the team taking JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson (third round), and Chase Claypool in four-straight drafts. Even when there is a more pressing need available on the board, the Steelers never scoff at the chance to add a playmaker to the team at a value. They did so last season drafting Pickens coming off an ACL tear and do so again here selecting WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba out of Ohio State who has battled various injuries throughout the season.

However, Smith-Njigba is just one year removed from posting 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine TDs, being the Buckeyes’ best WR on the team over Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who are lighting up the NFL as rookies. Normally, Pittsburgh tries to avoid risk in the draft, but they showed faith in Pickens coming off injury last year and should JSN be healthy come draft day, adding him beside Pickens and Diontae Johnson would present a vaunted WR core where Smith-Njigba could thrive as a big slot like JuJu did while also getting some run outside.


Analysis: The Steelers could be in the market for a cornerback this offseason with Ahkello Witherspoon expected to be a cap casualty while Cam Sutton and James Pierre are slated to hit free agency. While it is expected that Pittsburgh will do everything possible to retain Sutton, they could still use another CB to fill out the room and give the team a solid trio with Sutton and Levi Wallace in the starting lineup. Alabama CB Eli Ricks is a not often-mentioned prospect that should garner more attention from the national media as the pre-draft process picks up.

Ricks has had an up-and-down college career after breaking out as a true freshman at LSU with four INTs, two returned for TDs. His height and length are enticing (6’2, 196lb) as a prototypical boundary CB, but his lack of long speed and consistent awareness of when the ball is in the air are issues he needs to work on to round out his game. The Combine will be a big test for Ricks, as he can solidify himself as a Day Two pick with a solid workout. Pittsburgh may wait to address other needs on the roster and come back to take a player like Ricks who has the physical traits and pedigree you look for on the outside.


Analysis: The Steelers need to address the off-ball linebacker position this offseason with Devin Bush likely out of town and Robert Spillane needing to get re-signed. Myles Jack’s spot on the roster isn’t guaranteed either as the ILB group failed to produce any splash plays this past season. Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown has the pedigree, experience, and the athleticism they tend to look for at the position. Should they wait till the middle rounds of the draft to address ILB, Overshown could be a player they target who could contribute immediately on special teams and get on the field in certain packages as he continues to develop his body as that new age S/LB hybrid that can cover and can run sideline to sideline.


Analysis: While the Steelers may prove to be comfortable running it back with the same five starters on the offensive line from last season, they do need to bring in quality depth to protect themselves from possible injury which they luckily avoided last season. Tyler Steen transferred from Vanderbilt to Alabama and had a good season with the Crimson Tide, earning second team All-SEC honors. He has started 46 games in his college career, splitting time at both tackle spots. Steen also played at guard during the Senior Bowl and represented himself well there during the week.

Standing 6054, 325lb with 33” arms, Steen could be a versatile OL that can provide depth at T or G, playing a similar role that Matt Feiler used to play before he cracked the starting lineup. Should Steen show promise in his development early on, perhaps he could challenge Dan Moore Jr. or Kevin Dotson for a starting spot.


Analysis: Given the need to fill out the DL room this offseason, Pittsburgh could elect to spend multiple picks on the defensive line. Penn State’s P.J. Mustipher may go higher than this, but as of right now, he is slated as a late Day Three pick and has only tallied three sacks in his five-year college career. Still, Mustipher has the size (6’4, 321lb) and strength to be a stout run defender as the next level as well as the effort to push the pocket and pressure the QB with his bull rush. Our staff that went down to the Shrine Bowl raved about Mustipher and his performance during the week, and his body type could make him a candidate to provide depth at NT as well as at the 3-technique/4i.


Analysis: The Steelers have brought back Quincey Roche this offseason to add depth to the OLB room, but they still can stand to add more competition to that room in hopes of bolstering the pass rush behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Ochaun Mathis from Nebraska underwhelmed as far as production goes in 2022 (3.5 sacks), but he has the frame (6’4 1/2”, 246lb) and the athleticism you look for in a developmental edge rusher.

Mathis is a TCU transfer who had 15.5 sacks prior to transferring this past season and plays with quickness, power, and violent finish as a pass rusher off the edge. He is comfortable lining up in a 2-point stance as a rush outside linebacker and has an explosive first step on the snap of the football. He has great closing speed but needs some seasoning to improve his overall productivity as a pass rusher. He could come in and immediately be the team’s EDGE4, contributing on special teams while working his way onto the field to give Watt or Highsmith a breather.

What are your thoughts on the names listed above in this mock draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Does this present a realistic scenario that the team may take toward the 2023 NFL Draft? What did I get right? Where did I mess up? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and thanks again for reading!

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