The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the unique spot of having two picks in the top 32 — picks 17 and 32 — in GM Omar Khan’s first draft. Given team needs, there’s a variety of ways it could go, making this draft as difficult to predict as any other in recent memory.
On Monday, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller joined SportsCenter to thumb through some of the notable names he sees as ideal firs for the Steelers. He started things off by talking about Tennessee OT Darnell Wright.
“Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is the best right tackle the NFL Draft…Darnell Wright is ready to come in,” Miller said. “This is gonna help Najee Harris. He’s gonna help Pat Freiermuth at tight end to be more of a wide receiver, less of a blocker and it’s definitely gonna help Kenny Pickett in the pocket.”
Wright is considered a Tier 2 tackle in this draft behind only Ohio State’s Paris Johnson and Georgia’s Broderick Jones (and potentially Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, though he’s largely viewed as a guard). Big with length and light feet, he’s played both tackle spots and could also be viewed as a guard at the next level.
Miller notes the chance to upgrade at right tackle though Chukwuma Okorafor will be starting somewhere in the Steelers’ 2023 lineup. Too expensive to be a backup, Pittsburgh could try to flip him to left tackle, where he played in college, though it’s been several seasons since he’s logged extensive work on the blindside. Drafting a right tackle would also be a tricky line to walk in training camp, working Okorafor at left tackle, Dan Moore Jr. as a swing player, and hoping Wright can earn the starting job on the right side. If he can’t, then Pittsburgh’s reverting back to its old configuration, Moore on the left side, Okorafor on the right, just before the start of the season.
Miller pivoted to another option at #17, though one that would have to fall into the Steelers’ laps – Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.
“Joey Porter Jr., the corner from Penn State, is someone who is a fantastic player on the boundary. You notice the length right when you watch him play. But he’s physical at the line scrimmage. He’s fast enough to run in phase with receivers down the field.”
Porter is one of the top three corners in this class, battling Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon to be the first name off the board. Porter has a chance to fall to #17 but it would be equally unsurprising if his name was called within the top 16 picks. Pittsburgh loves its bloodlines and they don’t get much with Porter Jr. and his father.
Finally, Miller referenced the need to add a third receiver, highlighting Boston College’s Zay Flowers as an option at #32.
“If he happens to be there at 32 overall, it gives them that vertical threat,” he said. “Diontate Johnson is a good one. Zay Flowers gives you a little bit better ability at the catch point.”
Flowers is one of the top receivers in a relative down class that may only see one name go off the board on Thursday night. Great after the catch who can win at all three-levels, he’s a fantastic separator. There’s connections to Mike Tomlin, too, with his son Dino transferring from Maryland to Boston College. Tomlin watched at least one game in person this year, seeing Flowers go off for a 10/117/2 line in a loss to Rutgers. But Pittsburgh has shown more interest in later round receiver options as opposed to someone at #32.