The Pittsburgh Steelers like their cornerbacks to be able to cover and hit. They stick with that mold in CBS Sports’ latest mock draft. With the 17th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Steelers select Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon in Tom Fornelli’s latest mock released Saturday morning. Explaining the pick, Fornelli says Witherspoon is the type of corner the Steelers will love.
“I had the Steelers go with Joey Porter Jr. in my first mock, but I’m ditching the family reunion story this time. Mostly because Witherspoon wasn’t available at this point of my last mock! He is here, and he’s Pittsburgh’s choice, as it needs help at corner, and Witherspoon plays with an edge that I can’t help but believe Mike Tomlin will fall in love with.”
Cornerback has been a popular place to go with the Steelers’ first rounder. Cam Sutton is a pending free agent and though it’s more likely than not he returns in 2023, it’s not guaranteed. Even if he’s signed, any team who hopes to be competitive needs three starting corners and the room lacks that true #1 cover corner. Corner is as strong a positional group as any in this year’s draft, presenting good value for Pittsburgh at #17.
As Fornelli writes, Witherspoon packs a powerful punch and isn’t shy about throwing his weight around. From Josh Carney’s scouting report, here’s just one example of him hammering the back in the flat on this bubble screen.
Yeah, that’ll play well in Pittsburgh.
Witherspoon lacks some size with a portion of draftniks viewing him as a slot corner at the next level. Still, that has value and the Steelers lack a consistent nickel option, bouncing around between players ever since losing Mike Hilton to free agency. 2022 was mostly a rotation of Arthur Maulet on run downs and Cam Sutton kicking inside on passing downs. For part of the year, Maulet was used as an all-situations player but he was picked on in coverage, an ugly 116.1 QB rating against.
Witherspoon is far from the only option at #17. Other notable names in that range include Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., and South Carolina’s Cam Smith. Ultimately, all four of those names go in Fornelli’s mock, highlighted by Gonzalez at #9. His mock has other interesting selections in North Dakota State OL Cody Mauch going all the way up at #16 to Washington while Alabama EDGE Will Anderson slips to #5 to Seattle. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud is the #1 pick in the draft, a mock-draft trade with Chicago and heading to Houston.
Check out our full report on Witherspoon below.