Adding pieces to the offensive line continues to be the focus for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, at least when it comes to the opinions of the national media.
Whether that’s through free agency or the 2023 NFL Draft, the belief is the Steelers need to continue to build up the offensive line in front of promising young quarterback Kenny Pickett.
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL Scout turned draft analyst who is one of the most respected in the industry, has the Steelers doing just that in his latest mock draft, selected Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright at No. 17 overall.
“Wright’s a plug-and-play right tackle for an offensive line that needs to be overhauled to protect Kenny Pickett,” Jeremiah writes regarding his selection of Wright at No. 17 overall for the Steelers.
The selection of Wright follows in the line of thinking Jeremiah has had this off-season for the Steelers. Previously, he selected Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence in his initial mock draft opening up the offseason.
While Wright might be a plug and play right tackle, it doesn’t exactly fix the Steelers’ offensive line overall, at least the way many believe they should. Current Steelers’ right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor was solid last season in pass protection and was passable as a run blocker, pairing with James Daniels on the right side of the offensive line to form a stout pairing in the Steel City.
He might not exactly fit what the Steelers want at the position though in their run-heavy system, which is a mauler at right tackle. Okorafor is more athletic and a finesse guy, rather than a brute strength type of player. That’s what Wright profiles as, though he remains very raw overall.
Steelers Depot’s own Chandler Stroud profiled Wright ahead of the draft and had this to say about the Volunteer in his draft profile:
“Darnell Wright’s game has such a low floor, but it feels initially that his game has an incredibly high ceiling as well. He won in different ways against opponents in different games, but his execution is going to have to become much more consistent. Lunging at defenders was something that hindered him slightly and against the faster rushers of the world like TJ Watt, that simply won’t do. He must learn to play faster, simply put. However, he has great strength that showed up in a multitude of ways. He isn’t going to throw guys out of the club consistently, but one glaring thing about his game is the guy knows where the ball is going, and he knows how to get himself between defenders and the ball carrier.”
The Steelers have shown interest in Wright already this offseason, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who stated that there is belief in the league that Wright could kick inside to guard, and that is where the Steelers could see him, which makes him a fit in Pittsburgh.
At 6’5″, 342 pounds, Wright certainly fits the profile of what the Steelers are looking for in the trenches, and he would be a good initial addition as depth and competition for guys like Okorafor or left guard Kevin Dotson, depending on what the Steelers view him as.
It’s worth noting though that in Jeremiah’s mock draft, Wright was the fourth tackle taken behind Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski (No. 9 overall, Panthers), Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. (No. 11, Titans) and Georgia’s Broderick Jones (No. 13 overall, Jets). Potential fits at other positions like Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, Florida’s Torrence, and Alabama defensive back Brian Branch were still on the board at the time of the Steelers’ selection in Jeremiah’s mock.