2023 NFL Draft

Mock Draft Monday: Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 Mock Draft: February 20

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. In this scenario, I have projected a trade between the Steelers and Buccaneers who trade up to #32 overall to select a rookie QB with Pittsburgh netting #50, #82, & #253.


Analysis: The Steelers have seen good play from the likes of CBs Cam Sutton and Levi Wallace this season but lack that CB1 that can match up with opposing #1 WRs on a weekly basis. They look to fill that need with a familiar name, selecting Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. Porter Jr. has all the ties to Pittsburgh you could dream of, being the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers’ player and coach Joey Porter, who served on Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff from 2014 to 2018. Tomlin and Porter were close off the field, having sons who played at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. Porter Sr. is now an assistant coach in the XFL.

Besides the “Blue’s Clues” that easily link Porter to Pittsburgh, Porter has vastly improved his draft stock this season, being regarded as one of the best cover corners in the class after breaking up 11 passes this season. He is a willing tackler in run support and only has one career INT to his credit, suggesting his ball skills may not be the best. However, Porter has the size (6’2, 198lb), length, and play demeanor Coach Tomlin and the Steelers look for and will likely be one of the favorites to be the team’s first selection come spring.


Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers could really use a slot receiver to pair with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, even if Calvin Austin III comes back from injury this season. Adding Downs into the mix would give Pittsburgh another craftsman as a route runner as well as a dynamic playmaker that can make plays down the field and out in space to invigorate this passing attack. HE has impressive speed, quickness, and start/stop ability as a route runner making him an ideal target after the first round for Pittsburgh’s offense.


Analysis: The Steelers need to add depth and starters to their defensive line with the number of upcoming free agents they figure to have this offseason. Keeanu Benton could meet both those designations as he has improved every season in Madison and his put himself on the map as one of the better interior defensive linemen in this draft class. He possesses impressive play strength to shed blocks and push the pocket. He is a menace in the run game and brings a pass rush to the table as well, having four sacks this season. Benton had a great week at the Senior Bowl and admitted that Tomlin and the Steelers had him on their radar, squarely locking him in as a potential Day Two selection.


Analysis: While LB Devin Bush has improved in his play this season after a dreadful 2021 campaign, he is scheduled to hit free agency. With Myles Jack struggling to live up to the contract that Pittsburgh signed him to this past offseason and the current state of the team’s run defense, investing premium draft capital in a solid run stuffer at ILB would be a wise investment.

The Steelers opt to bring in an off-ball linebacker that has the size and temperament you look for in a quality run stopper, selecting Iowa’s Jack Campbell in the third round. Campbell makes plays all over the field as a downhill run stuffer that can fight off blocks as well as a capable zone coverage defender. He isn’t the most dynamic athlete in terms of burst or twitch, but the 6’5, 243lb senior has the size, tenacity, and instincts you want in an off-ball linebacker that can play in the middle of an NFL defense for years to come. He is an experienced starter that would provide steadiness and reliability to the LB core that Pittsburgh desperately needs.


Analysis: Pittsburgh needs capable pass rushers behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and with Highsmith also in the final year of his rookie deal next season, EDGE should be high on Pittsburgh’s list of needs for the 2023 NFL Draft. Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a talented pass rusher that wins with finesse and technique as well as power and effort as he chases down opposing QBs with speed. He needs to continue to get stronger to hold his own at the point of attack and set the edge to be considered a full-time player at the next level, he could come in as the #3 option off the bench, seeing 10-12 snaps a game in relief of the starters and provide a quality pass rush.


Analysis: Pittsburgh faces tough decisions along the defensive front with Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, and Chris Wormley all scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. Instead of bringing back multiple veterans on contract extensions, they could opt to inject more youth upfront with the selection of Dexter earlier and addressing NT with South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens. Pickens comes in at 6’4, 305lb and can move up-and-down the LOS, kicking inside over the center or in the A gap as well as outside the guard. He is a stout run defender and brings some pass rush juice, having the explosiveness to be used on passing downs as a bigger-bodied defender that Pittsburgh needs upfront.


Analysis: The Steelers enter the seventh round of the draft looking to fill out depth at various positions on the OL, selecting IOL #75 Jerome Carvin out of Tennessee first. Carvin is one of the most experienced prospects in this draft class, having played five seasons for the Vols and has seeing action in 60 games with 43 starts. He has appeared in more career games than any position player in the school’s history, having 21 starts come at left guard, 17 at right guard and five at center. Carvin can be the team’s swing man inside at either guard spot or center, providing a good floor play if any starter would go down while continuing his development on the bench.


Analysis: Pittsburgh doubles down on backup OL in the seventh by selecting Alex Palczewski out of Illinois, addressing depth behind Dan Moore Jr. and Chuks Okorafor at OT. Palczewski has good size for the position, standing 6’6 314lb who also has ample starting experience, having started 65 games in his college career with 49 at tackle and 16 at guard. He is a seasoned pass protector, ending his career with 713 consecutive pass-block snaps (99% at RT) without allowing a sack, according to PFF and didn’t allow a sack in 2022.

However, Palczewski has some technical skills that need refinement, potentially causing him to slip into Day Three. Adding him to Pittsburgh’s OL room will provide a viable swing tackle that should be able to hold the fort in Chuks or Moore were to miss any time.


Analysis: Zach Gentry is scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, and while Pittsburgh could elect to bring him back, they could choose to address the backup TE position in the draft and allocate their cap space to other needs seeing as Gentry’s ceiling is capped and he has yet to record a receiving TD in his NFL career.

They get a carbon copy of Gentry to end the draft by selecting another “Zack”, Zack Kuntz out of Old Dominion. Kuntz has near identical size to Gentry, standing 6’8, 251lb.  However, Kuntz is more of a receiving threat, being one season removed from catching 73 passes for 692 yards and five TDs. He needs to add more weight to his frame, but Kuntz can become a higher ceiling version of what Gentry has been for the Steelers as a big blocking TE that can contribute on special teams and be a weapon in the passing game.

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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