In just eight days, the 2023 NFL Draft will kick off in Kansas City, where 31 teams (the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first rounder) will make selections in the first round of the much-anticipated draft.
One of those teams will be the Pittsburgh Steelers, who currently sit at No. 17 overall in the first round. While it’s not the best spot overall, it’s an intriguing one for the Black and Gold. They are in the middle of the first round and will get a chance to snag a high-end talent who can plug a hole right away.
The first round will be a big boost for the Steelers but the work that occurs on Day 2 will be key. The Steelers have three picks on Day 2, including two in the second round – No. 32 overall to open the day, and No. 49 overall, giving the Steelers three picks inside the top 50. For a team retooling on the fly, that’s outstanding.
According to former NFL GM turned SiriusXM draft analyst Mark Dominik, one position in particular offers the Steelers a better chance at yielding a strong player at No. 32 overall compared to others.
That position? Cornerback.
Speaking with reporters in a pre-draft media call Wednesday, Dominik told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Tim Benz that cornerback has a better shot of hitting at 32 overall compared to a position like offensive tackle at that same draft slot because of the depth at cornerback.
“I would say that the corner, you’re going to have a better shot of hitting,” Dominik said of the depth toward pick No. 32, according to reporting from Benz. “I think that there’s going to be a little bit better chance that there’s going to be somebody you’re going to like at the cornerback spot than I think the tackle spot. I think the tackle spot is going to hit a little bit of a wall once we get past some of the bigger names. I think there’s enough at that corner spot where I think you feel more comfortable saying, ‘I’ve got a better chance of being right’ there.”
That shouldn’t be all that surprising and could echo some of the thoughts occurring inside the Steelers’ draft room. Though we’ll never know what’s discussed in there, based on the depth that the cornerback class has outside of the top names, waiting on the position until No. 32 or No. 49 overall could be the move for the Steelers. The tackle class isn’t all that strong outside of the top four to five names, which could force Pittsburgh’s hand at No. 17 in the first round.
A name like Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is a popular one in the trenches for the Steelers at No. 17 overall. Dominik offered up names like Georgia corner Kelee Ringo, Kansas State corner Julius Brents, Michigan corner DJ Turner, and even Maryland corner Deonte Banks as options at No. 32 overall.
That doesn’t include Miami (FL) corner Tyrique Stevenson, whom former Steelers corner and current scout Ike Taylor put through individual drills at the Hurricanes’ Pro Day and spoke glowingly of on a recent podcast, or guys like South Carolina’s Darius Rush, Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes, Utah’s Clark Phillips III or even Purdue’s Cory Trice Jr.
In a deep, extremely talented cornerback class, it might pay off to bypass the position in the first round and dip into the offensive tackle or defensive line pool to get a top player and then see how the board falls. Compared to addressing cornerback first and then hoping guys that are coveted by the franchise are on the board at those other positions starting at No. 32 overall, this might be the Steelers’ better play.