With the NFL Draft now officially less than a month away, mock drafts are hot off the presses and are starting to transition from just first-round mocks to longer mocks. One of these longer mock drafts is what we will look at today, a three-round mock that Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports released yesterday.
To note, Pittsburgh has four picks in the first three rounds: 17, 32, 49, and 80.
At 17, Trapasso has the Steelers landing one of, if not the best, offensive tackle in the draft in Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski.
“The Steelers go with the super-versatile Skoronski with some of the cleanest pass-protection film in the class,” wrote Trapasso.
Normally mocked a top-10 pick, Skoronski at 17 it is a no brainer for general manager Omar Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin. Skoronski would help continue to build a picket fence in front of quarterback Kenny Pickett. Skoronski has some size concerns, standing at 6’4″ 313 pounds, but the tape doesn’t lie; he was unbelievably sound at Northwestern.
At the NFL Combine, Skoronski said that he met with the Steelers and that the meeting went well. Even if Skoronski doesn’t end up being a tackle at the pro level, he can easily slot into a guard position and still be extremely effective.
After getting a huge win in selecting Skoronski at 17, Trapasso has Pittsburgh continuing to address the offense by drafting North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs with pick 32. The Steelers clearly are interested in the 5’9″ 171-pound receiver telling him he had one of the “cleanest” workouts.
Not only did Downs impress during his workout, he also impressed during the 2022 season as he put up a great stat line of 94 catches, for 1,024 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Steelers have need for a slot receiver/general receiver depth and Downs fills the need in the Steel City.
Moving to the Steelers’ second pick in the second round at 49, Trapasso has the team finally addressing the defense with Pitt Panthers defensive tackle Calijah Kancey. Kancey could help out at nose tackle while also being able to move up and down the line as needed.
Kancey, though, is undersized at 6’1″ 281 pounds and does not have the typical size for a defensive tackle tasked with clogging up the middle. However, he is extremely athletic and that helped him be super productive. This athleticism helped him record 31 tackles and seven sacks this past season.
With Pittsburgh’s final pick in Trapasso’s three-round mock draft, he has them selecting center John Michael Schmitz from Minnesota at 80. This pick would once again help out a young quarterback in Pickett by adding to the offensive line.
Schmitz has already been linked with Pittsburgh as beat reporter Gerry Dulac tabbed him as a guy to keep your eye on earlier in the offseason. At 6’4″ 320 pounds, Schmitz can have a huge impact and be Pittsburgh’s long-term center. While Mason Cole has been good, I think it is unlikely to tab him as the Steelers’ next franchise center, especially for a franchise with a lineage of great centers in Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, and Maurkice Pouncey.
This mock draft wasn’t bad by any means, but I find it very unlikely. My biggest complaint is not drafting a cornerback, which I believe to be the Steelers’ biggest need. Obviously if Skoronski is there at 17 you don’t pass on him, but I would think you would try and draft a cornerback at 32 or 49 if the team doesn’t grab one at 17.
Building around Pickett and giving him weapons and a better line isn’t a bad thing at all though, and this mock draft certainly makes the team better. I just doubt it is the direction the team actually goes.