2023 NFL Draft

‘They’re Really Set Up Well:’ NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah Believes Steelers Could Draft Four Solid Starters In 2023

The 2023 NFL Draft may lack top-end talent at several positions but it’s deep throughout. That’s good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers who have four picks in this year’s draft top 80.

Appearing on a lengthy draft call today, NFL Network top draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the Steelers are in a good spot to acquire plenty of talent in this year’s group.

“I think they’re really set up well,” Jeremiah said on the conference call. “When you look at the needs of offensive line, corner, maybe even some more pass rush. I think where they’re positioned with their picks, 17, 32, 49, 80, those are four, I think you can get four starters of those four picks.”

The Steelers will have option at 17 and 32 if they want to improve their offensive line. Jeremiah recently mocked big Tennessee RT Darnell Wright to the Steelers in his latest projections, a player who could stick at right tackle or potentially bump inside to right guard. Other options Jeremiah mentioned include Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence, another big body at 335 pounds, run-game maulers who would fit in well with the Steelers’ ground attack. The interior offensive line class should provide Pittsburgh with plenty of choices.

Given the weight of the class, Jeremiah mentioned cornerback as a possibility for the Steelers in the first round. He threw out Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon as good fits, Porter especially given the Steelers’ connections, though cautioned he wasn’t sure if any of them were going to fall to #17.

While a starting outside linebacker isn’t as big a need, depth behind Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt is thin and it’s worth pointing out Highsmith will be entering the final year of his rookie deal. Auburn’s Derick Hall would be a strong Day Two fit while Clemson’s K.J. Henry is also an intriguing fit a bit later into Day Two.

For the first time since the 2000 NFL Draft, there will be a new GM part of the process in Omar Khan and assistant Andy Weidl. While both are in new roles, Khan has been with the organization since 2001 and Weidl is a Western PA native whose first job was interning for the Steelers in 1998 and 1999. Jeremiah has known Weidl in the past and spoke to the mentality he’ll bring to the team.

“The good thing is Omar’s smart. Omar’s been there. He knows what the Steelers are supposed to look like and how they’re supposed to play. I think Andy Weidl coming over there is somebody I’ve known forever and he’s gonna kind of bring his background with the Ravens and with the Eagles. And if you look at those teams and how they’ve been built and the sustained success similar to the Steelers in that it’s a line of scrimmage organization.”

Weidl himself was an offensive lineman in college, a guard at Villanova, and he’s discussed in the past his love of scouting the big guys up front. Pittsburgh could add help on both sides of the ball; at the least, they need better o-line depth and definitely need additions along the d-line.

It’s a rare opportunity for the Steelers to have three top-50 picks. The last time it happened was 1989, Pittsburgh missing on its pair of first round picks but finding DB Carnell Lake in the second round. The time before that was Chuck Noll’s first draft class in 1969, landing DT Joe Greene 4th overall though the next two picks, including QB Terry Hanratty, fell flat.

With Mike Tomlin and company making the picks, Jeremiah believes the Steelers are in good hands.

“Tomlin and that group does such a good job at developing the guys once you bring them in. So I think their needs marry up very well with this draft…they have the coaching staff to get it out of them. I know this is a draft call but what they did last year to kick save that season and once again Mike Tomlin goes over 500. It was pretty remarkable.”

For 2023, the Steelers goal won’t just to inch above .500. It’ll be to return to the playoffs and win their first postseason game since 2016.

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