The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 Draft is in the books, and the team added impact players of need on both sides of the football. After the final pick was turned in, GM Omar Khan and HC Mike Tomlin took to the podium.
When asked about the opportunity to move back in the third round to recoup a fourth-round pick — Pittsburgh gave up its own in a trade up to acquire OT Broderick Jones in the first round — Khan stated that the Steelers felt comfortable with the guys their board and were confident that one they wanted would fall to them.
“We were sitting there in the third round and when the call came about trading back, we just evaluated,” Khan said at the presser that aired live on the team’s YouTube Channel. “We had a good feel for how many players that would be left that we were interested in, and we got the top guy actually on that list. He was still sitting there and the opportunity to pick up a fourth that we had lost, it was going to be a long, long wait from today if we didn’t have an extra pick. Fortunately, we got it because we got a really good football player: Nick Herbig.”
The “top player” Khan referred to is Georgia TE Darnell Washington, a player most draft experts considered a late 1st-/early 2nd-round prospect. Many expected the Steelers to have to target Washington at #32 overall, where they took Joey Porter Jr., to have any shot at landing him. But Washington took a bit of a tumble on Friday due to medical concerns regarding swelling in his knee at the Combine.
Still, the fact that Pittsburgh managed to trade back 13 spots and take a player like Washington, while recouping a fourth-round pick to select Wisconsin LB Nick Herbig, is complete sorcery by Khan and the front office.
“I would say very, very surprised,” Khan said regarding Washington still being on the board after the trade back. “We thought very highly of him. Honestly did not expect him to be sitting there.”
The Steelers met with Washington at Georgia’s Pro Day as well as at the NFL Combine. They also brought him in for a pre-draft visit, suggesting that the interest was alive and well. Rightfully so as the 6’7, 264lb behemoth TE identifies as “The Sixth Lineman” and decimates opposing defenders in the running game while having the size and athleticism to be a dangerous pass catcher as well.
The Steelers crushed the draft, sticking to their board and taking their top-rated players available. Khan showed conviction in his first draft as the man running the show, trading up to secure the team’s LT in the future in Broderick Jones while holding the 32nd pick to take the hometown Joey Porter Jr. They stopped Washington’s slide at #93 overall when many teams removed him from their boards and got Nick Herbig and Cory Trice at great value as well.
There was no overthinking by Khan. He stuck to his guns and added the best players and improve the roster. He did that in a big way this week, literally and figuratively. We’ll have to see how this draft class turns out over time, but walking away from the draft, it appears like Omar Khan hit a home run.