It’s now time for me to release the final version of my Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 mock draft and this year it is my only offering.
As usual, I have adhered to several historical principles related to past Steelers drafts when putting my final mock together. One of those is making sure I pay close attention to players who played in, or were invited to the annual college all-star games, as we’ve seen the Steelers draft quite a few of those non-underclassmen players from various rounds over the years. Obviously, our annual pro day tracker was closely followed in addition to the reports of which players came in for top-30 pre-draft visits.
In addition to providing my guess for every round, I also included four other players I considered while building this last mock so you can see where my head was while putting this final one together. As usual, my primary goal is to have several of the 35 total players listed below ultimately wind up being selected by the Steelers.
Due to me being so busy with the site once again this year and not being much of a fan of doing mocks these days, I only managed to do just one this year. I will try to do two next year.
I invite everyone to post their final mocks in the comments below and hope all of you enjoyed our pre-draft coverage this year. We look forward to covering the real thing for you beginning Thursday evening. Don’t forget to get entered into our annual mock draft contest as well.
DISCLAIMER: AS USUAL, THIS IS WHAT I THINK THE STEELERS MIGHT DO IN THE DRAFT, NOT WHAT I WOULD DO.
ROUND 1 (#17 OVERALL): BRODERICK JONES/OT – GEORGIA – 6053, 311 LBS.
The Steelers only have three tackles under contract in Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr. and Le’Raven Clark. In short, this team absolutely must draft a tackle with one of its first two selections.
The Steelers would probably want to land one of Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. or Jones, and I think there’s a decent chance of that happening via a drop or trade up. When you look at the 16 teams set to pick ahead of the Steelers in the first round, not very many are expected to select a tackle. In fact, the first big hurdle might be the Chicago Bears, who could decide to take Northwestern product Peter Skoronski at ninth overall and view him as a left tackle. Should they bypass tackle altogether, even better. Past the Bears, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets are two teams I think could go tackle in the first round. In short, I believe there’s a legitimate shot that Jones could very well fall to the Steelers at 17 overall, especially if the Bears bypass tackle altogether.
Jones essentially checks all the boxes the Steelers look for in tackles outside of total games started, which might be yet another reason he slides a bit. He’ll be just 22 years of age come May, which is another plus. The Steelers brought Jones in for a top-30 pre-draft visit after general manager Omar Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin both attended his Georgia Pro Day.
While Jones still has some technical aspects to his game that will need refinement at the NFL level, he still should be able to challenge Moore for the starting left tackle spot this summer and probably win the job when the dust settles. That would be an ideal situation for the Steelers.
While I don’t predict trades in my mock drafts, I really can see the Steelers coming out of the first round with either Johnson or Jones as a result of a move up. That said, I do firmly believe there’s a decent chance that Johnson falls to the Steelers at 17 overall if one or two selections ahead of them go a direction other than tackle.
College Bio: https://georgiadogs.com/sports/football/roster/broderick-jones/6430
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Georgia T Broderick Jones
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=20013&ovl=Georgia
Others Considered: CB Deonte Banks, CB Joey Porter Jr., OT Darnell Wright, DT Bryan Bresee
ROUND 2 (#32 OVERALL): KEEANU BENTON/DT – WISCONSIN – 6036, 309 LBS.
Even if the Steelers wind up trading out of the 32nd overall selection, I think the ultimate result of the move back in the second round could still put them in play for Benton, who was also brought in for a top-30 pre-draft visit. Alex Kozora tabbed Benton as a fit for the Steelers ahead of the Senior Bowl, where the defensive tackle represented himself well.
Despite all the pre-draft free agency additions the Steelers have made on their defensive line, all of them are just minor Band-Aids, so to speak. This team still needs another defensive front body that can play up and down the line of scrimmage. Benton did that at Wisconsin and even included plenty of nose tackle snaps, a position that would allow him to get on the field during his rookie season.
Benton’s ability to get after opposing quarterbacks should also allow him to get some rookie season snaps as one of two defensive linemen in some sub-package situations. Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar could then groom him to become a starter as early as 2024 or 2025 at the latest. Inconsistent leverage is probably the biggest knock on Benton coming out of college. If that is fixed, he could become a quality starting defensive lineman well before his rookie contract ends. He was a team captain last season at Wisconsin and that’s obviously another plus.
College Bio: https://uwbadgers.com/sports/football/roster/keeanu-benton/10980
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=16338&ovl=Wisconsin
Others Considered: TE Darnell Washington, DT Mazi Smith, EDGE Will McDonald IV, C John Michael Schmitz
ROUND 2 (#49 OVERALL): TYRIQUE STEVENSON/CB – MIAMI (FL) – 6003, 198 LBS.
Should the Steelers indeed bypass the cornerback position in the first round, they will undoubtably need to address it with one of their next two selections. Once you get past the likes of the most likely long-gone Joey Porter Jr. and Deonte Banks, Stevenson is in the next tier of cornerbacks that fits what the Steelers look for at that position.
Stevenson, who initially played at Georgia, transferred to Miami after the 2020 season to get closer to home. While he was an outside cornerback at Miami, there are some slot snaps on his resume from earlier college play. He’s a physical press cornerback who can get tight-hipped at times. That said, he has nice recovery aspects to his game. He’s pretty fearless as well.
The Steelers had scout and former cornerback Ike Taylor at the Miami Pro Day this year and he put Stevenson through his position workout. I think that means something. I also think the way that Taylor raved about Stevenson recently on his podcast might mean something as well. The Steelers brought Stevenson in for a top-30 pre-draft visit, and that also is important.
College Bio: https://miamihurricanes.com/roster/tyrique-stevenson/
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=16106&ovl=Miami
Others Considered: DT Gervon Dexter, EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, T Matthew Bergeron, EDGE Derick Hall
ROUND 3 (#80 OVERALL): TULI TUIPULOTU/EDGE – USC – 6030, 266 LBS.
The Steelers could use another young edge rusher to develop, and if they are looking for one in the third round, Tuipulotu could fit the bill. It’s easy to connect the USC edge rusher to the Steelers. Not only did he come in for a top-30 pre-draft visit, Mark Sadowski, the team’s Director of Player Scouting, went to the USC Pro Day. That’s a long way to go to see just five players who were Scouting Combine invites.
Tuipulotu already has experience playing on his feet as an edge rusher and that’s a big plus. He was productive at USC as well as he recorded 21 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in his three seasons as part of 30 total starts. Oh, and he’s not even 21 years of age yet. He has an NFL-bloodline to boot as his older brother, Marlon, was a defensive lineman at USC and a 2021 sixth-round pick (No. 189 overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tuipulotu could stand to lose eight or so pounds once he arrives in the NFL. That said, he still looks good at the 266 he weighed at the Scouting Combine.
College Bio: https://usctrojans.com/sports/football/roster/tuli-tuipulotu/13026
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: USC EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=16430&ovl=Southern+California
Others Considered: WR Jayden Reed, WR Jonathan Mingo, CB Julius Brents, CB Cory Trice Jr.
ROUND 4 (#120 OVERALL): RICKY STROMBERG/C – ARKANSAS – 6032, 306 LBS.
I am buying the smoke that the Steelers will draft a center this year. Earlier in the offseason, I would not have dreamed that I would get to this point but here we are. While Mason Cole did play well in his first season with the Steelers, he’s obviously not a long-term answer. Additionally, the Steelers really don’t currently have an acceptable backup behind Cole. Technically, it’s Ryan McCollum right now. While not outstanding, this year’s center class certainly is a respectable one and Stromberg is in the top five, in my opinion.
Centers tend to get pushed down in drafts and I think that might happen again this year. While some might have Stromberg as more of a fifth-round player, I think the fourth round is about right for him, especially if the Steelers miss out on the three or four higher-ranked centers at this point of the draft.
From a measurables standpoint, Stromberg checks nearly all the boxes for what the Steelers look for in interior offensive linemen. His 33 ¼-inch arms are the some of the longest in this year’s draft class among centers. Stromberg has guard experience as well as he started 11 games at the position in 2019. Nine of those 11 games included him at right guard. In total, Stromberg started 44 games at Arkansas with 33 coming at center.
The Steelers had a formal interview with Stromberg at the Scouting Combine and I’m sure they met with him at the East-West Shrine Bowl as well. He has a very clean character, so it probably wasn’t necessary to bring him in for a top-30 pre-draft visit, especially with him having such a large body of tape. Stromberg would make a great developmental center for the Steelers.
College Bio: https://arkansasrazorbacks.com/roster/ricky-stromberg/
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Arkansas C Ricky Stromberg
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=16306&ovl=Arkansas
Others Considered: TE Luke Schoonmaker, WR Xavier Hutchinson, DT Karl Brooks, EDGE Byron Young
ROUND 7 (#241 OVERALL): ANTHONY JOHNSON JR./S – IOWA STATE – 5115, 205 LBS.
It’s tough to gauge where Johnson will go in this year’s draft, and that’s mainly because he made the switch from cornerback to safety at Iowa State last season. Overall, that was a smart move by Johnson. However, he still has a lot to learn about the safety position as he enters the NFL.
When he played cornerback, Johnson played both outside and inside, and thus he could potentially work as some sort of sub-package slot defender as a rookie while also playing quite extensively on special teams.
The Steelers had Khan, Tomlin, and even defensive coordinator Teryl Austin at Iowa State Pro Day so that’s a big deal, even though he wasn’t the main reason why they were there. Austin put Johnson through his defensive back drills at his pro day and that’s notable, all things considered.
The Steelers did not bring Johnson in for a top-30 pre-draft visit but that’s not overly surprising. When you dig deep into his character it is A+++++. He’s the kind of kid you want on your team.
Should the Steelers ultimately decide they want a late-round safety prospect with cornerback skills they can possibly develop, Johnson could be the pick, assuming he makes it all the way through six rounds. I’m highly interested to see where he goes in the draft.
College Bio: https://cyclones.com/sports/football/roster/anthony-johnson-jr-/11889
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Iowa State S Anthony Johnson Jr.
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=23284&ovl=Iowa+State
Others Considered: EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado, CB Starling Thomas V, QB Max Duggan, G Andrew Vorhees
ROUND 7 (#251 OVERALL): NOAH GINDORFF/TE – NORTH DAKOTA STATE – 6060, 263 LBS.
Yes, a tight end. Look, I understand that the Steelers re-signed tight end Zach Gentry several weeks ago. Even so, his guaranteed money is just $152,500. In short, the Steelers need to bring in some competition for Gentry this offseason in the form of another big tight end who block. Someone like Gindorff.
While Gindorff might be hard for you to find on tight end rankings from media draftniks, let it be known that he was one of just 20 tight ends invited to the Scouting Combine this year. Unfortunately, the North Dakota State product didn’t do anything while in Indianapolis due to him recovering from ankle surgery.
Gindorff is known for his blocking. He only caught 44 passes in college but let the record show that 12 of those were touchdown receptions. He is what he is and that’s a big, throwback inline tight end who can block. He was the best blocking tight end in the FCS when he played, in my opinion.
Sure, Gindorff might go undrafted when the smoke clears thanks to this year’s tight end draft class being so deep and with him missing a lot of games last season with that ankle issue. Personally, I would like to see the Steelers take a late-round flyer on Gindorff. They really need some competition for Gentry.
College Bio: https://gobison.com/sports/football/roster/noah-gindorff/17939
Draft Profile: 2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: North Dakota State TE Noah Gindorff
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=23246&ovl=North+Dakota+State
Others Considered: QB Clayton Tune, ILB Shaka Heyward, CB Eli Ricks, WR Jake Bobo