The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us, which means we’re one step closer to the 2023 NFL Draft, which will be held in Kansas City this year.
Though some key offseason events still need to occur, such as the start of the new league year, free agency and pre-draft visits, the draft cycle rolls right along, continuing Monday morning with Pro Football Focus’ two-round mock draft from Trevor Sikemma.
In Sikemma’s mock draft, the Steelers landed three big names with picks No. 17, 32 and 49, landing Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright, Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo and Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee with their first three picks inside the top 50.
Wright and Bresee are popular names that continue to be connected to the Steelers at this point in the offseason, while Ringo was a name connected during the 2022 season before slowly disappearing due to some struggles on the field last season for the Bulldogs.
Still, that type of haul for the Steelers with their first three picks would be quite the start to the draft for the black and gold. All three selections address early needs, starting with Wright in the trenches as Sikemma does a good job pairing the Tennessee product with the Steelers, especially after Pittsburgh has shown early interest.
“A former five-star recruit, Wright had a fantastic Senior Bowl at his home base of right tackle,” Sikemma writes regarding the selection of Wright at No. 17 in his mock. “The Steelers could draft Wright, then flip Chukwuma Okorafor to his former position of left tackle, which he played at Western Michigan.”
Hypothetically, the Steelers could do that with Wright and then flip Okorafor to left tackle, but he’s never played left tackle in the NFL, switching to right tackle in the NFL once the Steelers drafted him and has never looked back. That’s not saying he couldn’t do it, but moving him off of his comfort zone at right tackle for a rookie doesn’t seem like a great idea.
Instead, the Steelers could draft Wright and flip him to left guard, where the team reportedly sees him as, at least according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Check out what Chandler Stroud had to say about Wright in his draft profile for the site.
Following the selection of Wright, Sikemma has the Steelers grabbing Ringo at No. 32, addressing a need at cornerback.
Prior to the offseason draft cycle at the start of 2023, Ringo was a consensus top-10 selection before the 2022 season, but he struggled in his redshirt sophomore campaign as he consistently got beat in coverage and struggled with mental lapses, even though Georgia’s defense was again dominant and won its second straight national championship.
Ringo, who sealed Georgia’s first national championship since 1984 in at the end of the 2021 season with a pick-six of likely No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young of Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game, is a bit raw overall in his instincts and overall technique for the position.
That could scare some teams off early in the 2023 NFL Draft, including the Steelers, who have struggled overall to identify talent at the position and develop them, Cameron Sutton aside.