While the Pittsburgh Steelers have made a lot of moves in free agency, they still have work to do to become a contender. Luckily for them they have the NFL Draft to continue to upgrade their team. Today, The 33rd Team Scouting Department came out with a two-round mock draft and each of the Steelers’ three picks address some of their biggest needs.
The Steelers hold three top-50 picks, at 17, 32, and 49, giving them ample opportunity to grab high-level talent early in the draft. One of the biggest needs for the Steelers is at offensive tackle, and that is what The 33rd Team has Pittsburgh addressing with its first pick, selecting Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones.
“Dawand Jones (scouting report) is a great fit for the Steelers’ offense,” wrote The 33rd Team. “The giant offensive tackle (6-foot-8, 374 pounds) has the strength and power to push defenders off the line of scrimmage. Pittsburgh brought in guard Isaac Seumulo [sic] from the Eagles during free agency, giving them even more talent up front. Kenny Pickett missed games because of a concussions last season, so building a wall in front of him makes sense.”
Free agency has seen the Steelers address their offensive line, bringing in Seumalo to take over starting left guard position and also grabbing Nate Herbig to provide depth at guard. With emphasis clearly on the offensive line, bringing in Jones to play tackle and help rebuilding the offensive line that has mostly been a mess since 2019 makes sense.
Jones has mostly played right tackle over his career but has experience at left tackle if Pittsburgh wants to slot him there. At only 21 years old he is still young and has room to grow. Yet he has already garnered his fair share of accolades. He made the AP All-American second team this past season and was second-team All-Big Ten as well. Jones was also graded highly by PFF this past season, receiving a grade of 82.1.
If you would like to see an in-depth film study of Jones’ play Steelers Depot’s own Ross McCorkle did one in late January.
At pick 32, The 33rd Team has the Steelers selecting Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks. Banks made headlines for his impressive showing at the NFL Combine in early March. Banks stands 6’0″ and weighs 197 pounds.
While having strong physical attributes, as shown during his Combine performance, Banks also did well at Maryland. In his four years there, Banks recorded 83 tackles, two interceptions, and 13 pass breakups. While not amazing numbers, he ended his collegiate career on a high note, picking off one pass and breaking up nine.
Pittsburgh needs an outside cornerback and Banks fits the mold. Banks can learn from veteran and future Hall-of-Famer Patrick Peterson as he grows if Pittsburgh does draft him. He has traits you can’t teach and with players like Peterson and Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary to mentor him, you have to trust your coaches to be able to develop a player with his potential weaknesses.
If you would like to see a film break down of Banks, Alex Kozora did one earlier this month.
Finally, with the 49th and last pick for Pittsburgh in the first two rounds, The 33rd Team has the Steelers selecting Keeanu Benton, a defensive lineman out of Wisconsin.
At 6’4″ 309 pounds Benton can play nose tackle this year for a team that needs strong nose tackle play, and possibly move up and down the line when needed. After the re-signing of Larry Ogunjobi, the defensive line isn’t the Steelers’ biggest need. But nose tackle is a significant one, as Montravius Adams can certainly be upgraded on. Pittsburgh completely overhauled its inside linebacker group this offseason and a way to make it easier for those players is to have effective big men in the middle clogging lanes.
Pittsburgh wants to be a team that wins with a dominant defense, so drafting a guy who has 81 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, four pass breakups and one forced fumble during his collegiate career as a primarily a nose tackle is definitely a way to build a dominant defense.
The NFL Draft is for now and the future and Benton fills both of those as a player who can slot in at nose tackle now, while also being able to move up and down the defensive line if needed in the future. Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora did a film breakdown of Benton where he gave a lot of praise to the Wisconsin product.
If the Steelers’ draft ends up like the mock The 33rd Team released I would be very happy. It fills a bunch of needs with very good players and sets up the Steelers not only for this season but for the future as well.