On Sunday, CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson released a two-round mock draft for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft that had the Pittsburgh Steelers addressing the offensive line before doubling down on defense in the second round. In the first round at No. 17 overall, Wilson has the Steelers selecting Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, while at No. 32 overall he had the Steelers selecting Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith before the team selects Texas A&M safety Antonio Johnson at 49th overall.
Skoronski has the flexibility to play either guard or tackle, which could make him a nice fit in Pittsburgh.
“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,” Wilson writes.
As Jonathan Heitritter wrote in his draft profile on Skoronski, moving him to guard would be a wise move by the Steelers. Currently, their biggest hole on the offensive line is at left guard, where Kevin Dotson has struggled with injuries and just generally inconsistent play. While you could argue Skoronski might be an upgrade over Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle, I think the Steelers want to give Moore another year to see if he can continue to progress. Even though Skoronski has had success as an offensive tackle during his three years as a starter at Northwestern, drafting him as a plug-and-play guard at No. 17 seems more likely. He could be a potential steal in the back half of the first round.
Smith played extensively at Georgia, seeing playing time in all four seasons and winning two national championships. He didn’t have a ton of sack production in college though, as he has just 12 career sacks, with 7.5 of them coming in the last two seasons. He finished his career at Georgia with 110 total tackles and 20 tackles for a loss. Smith does have pedigree, as he came to Georgia as a five-star recruit and a top-five prospect in the nation. He possesses elite athleticism, but he never was really able to translate that into college production. Frankly, I wouldn’t love the pick here for Pittsburgh, but they are likely going to address their EDGE depth in some way this off-season. I just don’t know if Smith is the guy for it.
Johnson would make sense if the Steelers are unable to re-sign one or both of Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee. If both of them re-up with Pittsburgh, safety won’t be a need in the second round. But Johnson would be an interesting player to acquire if the Steelers do end up needing to add to the room. He plays a lot in the box, and his tackling ability makes him a real threat when coming downhill.
While his pass coverage numbers don’t pop on tape (one career college interception, seven career pass deflections he has the requisite ball skills to play safety at a high level in the NFL. He also played some slot corner at Texas A&M. He forced three fumbles this past season, and I’m certainly not opposed to adding a willing tackler next to Minkah Fitzpatrick if the Steelers can’t retain Edmunds or Kazee.
It’s always fun to look at these mocks and see new names linked to the Steelers because there are just so many directions they can go with their top three picks. A lot of it is going to depend on free agency and who the team brings in and who they’re able to retain, but there are certainly a lot of ways the Steelers can go about this draft. It’s going to be a fun one for Steelers fans.