2023 NFL Draft

Mock Draft Monday: Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 Mock Draft: March 13

The 2023 NFL Draft is roughly six weeks away, and the Steelers are slotted to pick 17th overall in the first round. They also own the top pick in the second round thanks to the Chase Claypool trade with the Chicago Bears.

With the NFL Combine giving way to Pro Days, we continue to go through mock draft scenarios and project player/prospect fits who may interest the Steelers given their current needs and the talent in this upcoming class. Today, I will present a scenario in which Pittsburgh trades the 49th pick in the second round to the Los Angeles Rams, who want to get into the second round. In return, Los Angeles sends Pittsburgh #69 and #77 in the third round, giving Pittsburgh three third-round selections.


Analysis: The Steelers need to re-sign Cam Sutton to retain a productive, versatile playmaker on the back end of the defense. But more reinforcements are needed to compete against the top WRs in the AFC North. Sutton is a good player, but he, Levi Wallace, and Akhello Witherspoon should not be considered a #1 CB. Pittsburgh nabs a CB1 here in the first round, selecting Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon would normally be a top-15 prospect and potentially CB1 in this draft class. But his size (5’11 1/2”, 181lb, 31 1/4” arms) along with the fact that he hasn’t been able to take the field at all during this pre-draft cycle due to a nagging hamstring injury could cause a draft-day slide, resulting in CBs like Christian Gonzalez and Joey Porter, Jr. to go ahead of him. Pittsburgh stops the slide, nabbing a physical, feisty competitor that embodies what you look for in an NFL cover man. Witherspoon posted 41 total stops, 2.5 TFLs, three INTs, and 14 PBUs. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. Witherspoon has the makings of a quality cover corner and the demeanor to be a willing, physical run defender, which Pittsburgh looks for in its CBs.


Analysis: The Steelers have several notable needs on the roster, but ILB may be the biggest one at this time. Devin Bush and Robert Spillane are slated to hit free agency and Myles Jack is coming off a down year, having dealt with injuries, and has a notable cap hit in 2023. The Steelers need speed and splash at off-ball linebacker, and they take their shot at the top of the second round with Clemson’s Trenton Simpson.

Simpson is a sight to see as a HWS specimen, standing 6’2, 235lb with impressive speed and burst (4.43 40). He has played both off the ball and on the edge, showing he can rush the passer as a hybrid playmaker on the defensive side of the football. His scheme fit will be the key regarding his ability to produce at the next level. Having a relationship with Mike Tomlin since his freshman year at Clemson along with logging 23 TFLs, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles, and five PBUs the last three seasons, Simpson is that athletic run-and-chase defender that can make plays and is only scratching the surface of what he can become.


Analysis: The Steelers need to add depth and starters to their defensive line with the number of upcoming free agents they figure to have. Keeanu Benton, who could meet both those designations, has improved every season in Madison and established himself as one of the better interior defensive linemen in this class. He possesses impressive play strength to shed blocks and push the pocket. He is a menace in the run game and brings a pass rush to the table as well, having four sacks in 2022. Benton had a great week at the Senior Bowl and admitted that Tomlin and the Steelers have him on their radar. This squarely locks him in as a potential Day Two selection.


Analysis: Pittsburgh doesn’t have to go far from Wisconsin for its next selection, electing to stay at the same school and pick C Joe Tippmann with the extra pick acquired from the Rams. Tippmann is a big, athletic center (6’6, 313lb). He can play in a variety of blocking schemes, being able to pull, reach block, climb to the second level and work out in space, but also go straight ahead into nose tackles.

The Steelers met with Tippmann for a formal interview at the Combine, suggesting that there is at least some interest to select him to improve the OL — whether it be by moving him to LG to compete with Kevin Dotson or to play C and have Mason Cole move to LG to compete with and potentially replace Dotson this season.


Analysis: While the Steelers have Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin III in tow for next season, Austin is coming off a lost year and owner Art Rooney II himself expressed the need for the passing game to improve. Pittsburgh goes back to the draft and lands another great mid-round value selection here in Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims. Mims tore up the Combine, posting a 4.38 40, 10’9” broad, and 39.5” vertical. He can stretch the field and make leaping, combative catches despite a smaller frame (5’11, 183lb). He gets out of his breaks well and can stretch the field, creating more splash for a Steelers passing game that needs more explosive plays down the field.


Analysis: The Steelers double dip on OL thanks to the extra pick they acquired from Los Angeles, making a “luxury selection” with USC OL Andrew Vorhees. Vorhees tore his ACL at the NFL Combine, putting his 2023 season in doubt and NFL Draft stock in flux. Still, Vorhees can be considered one of the best pure guards in this draft and can be a plug-and-play guy when healthy. Pittsburgh stops his slide here, opting to potentially take a redshirt year with Vorhees and returning in 2024 to take the LG spot with Tippmann likely factoring in at C. In such a scenario, that reworked interior OL would feature two big, nasty run blockers.


Analysis: Pittsburgh takes a page out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ playbook with assistant GM Andy Weidl in the building, taking a shot at a late-round EDGE rusher. Kansas’s Lonnie Phelps fits the bill of what the team is looking for at the position, having the size (6’2, 244lb), athleticism (4.55 40, 31 bench reps) and demeanor you desire in a Steelers OLB. He played well in the Senior Bowl game (two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble) and spoke about his interaction with Grady Brown as his DC during the week, relishing the opportunity to learn from him and writing down everything Brown said in meetings. Phelps can come in as a rotational pass rusher and play all special-teams units right away.


Analysis: Given the need to fill out the DL room, Pittsburgh could elect to spend multiple picks on the defensive line. Penn State’s P.J. Mustipher may go higher than this, but as of now is slated as a late Day Three pick after tallying just three sacks in his five-year college career. Still, Mustipher has the size (6’4, 321lb) and strength to be a stout run defender as the next level as well as the effort to push the pocket and pressure the QB with his bull rush. Our staff that went down to the Shrine Bowl raved about Mustipher and his performance during the week. His body type could make him a candidate to provide depth at NT as well as at the 3-technique/4i.

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