2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Select Athletic D-Lineman In First Round Of NFL.com Mock Draft

As the 2023 Senior Bowl wraps up, practices over with only Saturday’s game to play, the first wave of NFL Draft season is over. Still many more to come, the Combine, Pro Days, with more evaluations and information, but it officially feels like draft season. NFL.com’s Eric Edholm released his latest 2023 mock draft, giving the Pittsburgh Steelers Clemson’s Bryan Breese with the 17th overall pick. Explaining why, he writes:

“We likely won’t know what range Bresee figures to land in until the medical portion of the NFL Scouting Combine. But if his reports come back clean, the former five-star recruit could go higher. The Steelers badly need D-line depth.”

Edholm doesn’t specify exactly what medical he’s referring to but it’s likely a nod to the kidney infection that put him in the hospital in 2022, causing him to miss a pair of games. It’s one reason why his production was light but even across 10 games this season, he recorded only 15 tackles (5.5 for a loss) with 3.5 sacks. He never matched his freshman year numbers and finished his college career with only nine sacks. Another medical concern stems from his 2021 torn ACL, causing him to play in only four games.

Still, his athleticism and traits make him an intriguing first-round option. In our scouting report, Jonathan Heitritter called him a “freak athlete” who can shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield. Still, Heitritter’s report came in lower than most, noting his rotational usage, often only playing 2-3 snaps before being subbed, with poor technique that leads to inconsistent play. He concluded:

“Bresee’s poor pad level, lack of hand usage, and fast-depleting motor result in plenty of frustration when watching his tape as a player that is a projected first-round pick that is expected to play all three downs.”

And gave him a second-round grade, not a Day One stamp.

Edholm says the Steelers “badly need D-line depth” but they may need starters as well. Only Cam Heyward is assured to start along Pittsburgh’s line next season. Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley are pending free agents. Ogunjobi may cost too much to retain and showed hot and cold tape throughout the season while battling a toe injury. Wormely is a solid technician and rotational backup but suffered a torn ACL in Week 14’s loss to his former team the Baltimore Ravens, casting serious doubt on his Week 1 availability.

Beyond that, there’s Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal but they’re young players who shouldn’t be counted on as full-time starters in 2023. Assistant GM Andy Weidl’s philosophy is to build through the trenches, he was one of the guys who helped get Haloti Ngata to Baltimore, so d-line is likely to be a heavy focus early in April’s draft.

Check out our full report on Bresee below.

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