The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: How do you feel about the Steelers’ 2023 NFL Draft class?
A lot of people seem to look at the draft process as the end of things in a certain sense. It’s really just the beginning, of course, the means to an end. It’s a process of talent acquisition for the purpose of increasing your chances of winning championships, so we won’t know how well this draft class contributes to that for a while.
But it sure looks good on paper to a lot of people, including myself. Mock draft hater that I am, I did predict they would draft Broderick Jones, Keeanu Benton, and Nick Herbig, and if I knew Joey Porter Jr. and Darnell Washington would have been available in between, I certainly would have recommended going in those directions.
But how do you feel about the draft? I don’t want to talk ‘grades’ because that’s too firm a prospect for where we are. If we were grading the Steelers’ draft process and how successfully they executed it, that would be another thing, but that’s rarely what we’re talking about in these situations.
The bottom line is the Steelers got two players who a week ago some weren’t even sure would be available to them in the first round. They had to trade up a few spots to get tackle Broderick Jones, but having cornerback Joey Porter Jr. slide to 32 I’m sure more than made up for it for most people.
Outside of tackle and cornerback, probably the area most people wanted the Steelers to address was the defensive line, and that was next on the list with Keeanu Benton, who can be a plug-and-play nose tackle with a pass-rush upside and should fit in nicely between Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunbjoi.
The only question about Darnell Washington is whether or not medical concerns are grounded, but if he avoids injury, he might end up being Steelers fans’ favorite pick from this class. As for Nick Herbig, well, he has to prove he can play on the edge with his limited wingspan. But the Steelers ask what players do well and work from there. If he doesn’t pan out outside they’ll move him inside.