It’s Monday which means it’s time for a new batch of 2023 NFL mock drafts to kick off the week. CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson is hitting the ground running with a two-round mock posted early Monday morning. At #17, he has the Pittsburgh Steelers taking Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski, writing:
“Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he’ll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard.”
As Wilson notes, there’s a debate about Skoronski’s future NFL fit. Despite a stellar college career at tackle, he’s expected to weigh-in at next week’s Combine undersized for the prototypical tackle. He may have sub-33-inch arms which are considered the standard to play the position. With that in mind, some teams may project him out to guard, a switch that’s been made time and time before with college tackles his size.
Still, Skoronski’s lack of length wasn’t an issue in college. And not every tackle needs to be long to succeed. Fellow former Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater came right in with 33-inch arms and was considered borderline-sized to play tackle on Sundays. But the Los Angeles Chargers smartly kept him there and now he’s one of the best young left tackles in football. Succeeding in the NFL is far more than just having the measurables. There have been plenty of those guys who looked the part who quickly flamed out of the league.
For the Steelers, a guy like Skoronski could fill a need at left tackle or left guard. Dan Moore Jr. improved but he’s far from elite while Kevin Dotson has been inconsistent along the interior. Both players were also highly penalized in 2022, 19 combined accepted penalties.
Check out Jonathan Heitritter’s profile on Skoronski, ultimately comparing him to Justin Pugh and giving him a first-round grade.
With the Steelers’ pair of second-round picks in the mock, Wilson has the team taking Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith at #32 and Texas A&M safety Antonio Johnson at #49. Both plug holes on the team. The Steelers need EDGE depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and though #32 may seem high to address it, it’s a backup that would’ve been invaluable in 2022 after Watt missed the first half of the season. Smith never broke out but has consistent production with 15 TFL and 7.5 sacks over this last two years. He also forced three fumbles in 2021 for that great Bulldogs’ defense.
Johnson would help fill the void potentially left by pending free agents Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee. It’s realistic one of those two players re-signs but it’s more difficult to see both coming back. Johnson could also be a long-term option. With good size at a listed 6’3, 200 pounds, he didn’t make many splash plays in the pass game, just one career interception, but has 13.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks over his last two seasons. He also forced three fumbles in 2022, making him a classic box-safety type of player.
Overall, a solid haul of prospects for the Steelers in the first two days, stacked with three Top-50 picks for the first time in forever. Good picks for GMs Omar Khan and Andy Weidl to play with in their first full offseason in those roles.
In his mock, Alabama EDGE Will Anderson goes #1 to the Chicago Bears. Crimson Tide teammate QB Bryce Young goes #2 to the Houston Texans while four quarterbacks go in the top ten.