We’re heading into the third and final day of the 2023 NFL Draft. After a busy first two nights that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers select four players – OT Broderick Jones, CB Joey Porter Jr., NT Keeanu Benton, and TE Darnell Washington – with three picks scheduled for Saturday.
Currently, Pittsburgh selects at #132 (fourth round), #241 (seventh round), and #251 (seventh round). Though the draft fans out on Day Three, here are some names Pittsburgh could consider.
Jaren Hall/BYU – Though some speculated a guy like Hall could sneak into the end of Day Two, he remains on the board. In fact, only the top five quarterbacks have been selected so far, from Bryce Young to Hendon Hooker. Quarterbacks tend to drop once the potential franchise guys come off the board, meaning someone like Hall could possibly slip down through the draft. While he lacks height and is an older prospect, he had a nice Senior Bowl, and the Steelers brought him in for a pre-draft visit. They need a #3 QB and will add it in some form or fashion.
Clayton Tune/Houston – Much of the same can apply to Tune, who threw 40 touchdown passes last year in the high-octane Cougars offense. Another pre-draft visitor, it doesn’t seem likely Tune slips into the end of the seventh round but quarterback positioning becomes unpredictable at this point in the draft. And should Pittsburgh trade down from the fourth round to acquire additional Day Three picks, Tune might have stronger odds.
Charlie Jones/Purdue – After bouncing around, from Buffalo to Iowa and then Purdue, Jones broke out in 2022. With a solid college QB in Aidan O’Connell throwing to him, Jones had nearly 1,400 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns. He has speed to win downfield and is an asset in the return game with one career punt and kickoff return for a touchdown; the Steelers had him in for a visit. A jumbled receiver class could push him down, though him being the pick at #132 wouldn’t be jaw-dropping either.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton/West Virginia – A height/weight/speed freak at 6’4, 221, who ran 4.38 and jumped 41 inches in the vert, Ford-Wheaton struggles to separate and has some ugly drops on tape. But the talent is there and he, like Jones, came in for a visit, though it was considered a local one that didn’t count against the Steelers’ allotted 30. If Pittsburgh wants to bet on size and traits, something it has done throughout the draft, Ford-Wheaton falls right in line with that.
Xavier Hutchinson/Iowa State – A big slot receiver and a great blocker who has earned comps to Allen Lazard. Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were at the Cyclones’ Pro Day and met with Hutchinson. Figuring out his value on Day Three is a little tricky. He seems like a 5th-/6th-round pick, neither of which Pittsburgh has, but he’s still a name to keep an eye on throughout Day Three.
Interior Offensive Line
Chandler Zavala/NC State – Steelers OL Coach Pat Meyer attended the Wolfpack’s Pro Day and Zavala – a Combine snub – came in for a visit a short time later. A transfer from D-II Fairmont State, Zavala showed off his athleticism at his Pro Day but hasn’t heard his name called. There are reportedly concerns over a back injury. But if Pittsburgh is comfortable, he could be in play in the fourth round if the Steelers want to add extreme guard depth.
Jerome Carvin/Tennessee – If the Steelers want late-round versatility — and that’s always a good thing — then Carvin could be their guy. He spent extensive time at all three interior spots and Meyer was at the Volunteers’ Pro Day. Darnell Wright was the main attraction but Carvin shouldn’t be forgotten either. He has size at 6’4, 307 with 34 1/2-inch arms.
Olu Oluwatimi/Michigan – The Rimington Trophy Award winner for college football’s best center in 202, it’s a surprise he hasn’t gotten much buzz in the pre-draft process. He arguably lacks elite physical tools but has some size and length and certainly pedigree. Quality depth option behind Mason Cole. Right now, there’s little behind him.
Karl Brooks/Bowling Green – While the Steelers nabbed Keeanu Benton at #49, the initial plan is to play him at nose tackle. On paper and in theory, that leaves a three-tech open and could open the door for someone like Brooks. DL Coach Karl Dunbar was at his Pro Day and the team brought him in for a pre-draft visit. Brooks lacks ideal length but is a high-energy player with heavy hands and tons of production.
Scott Matlock/Boise State – Tossing in a name from my sleeper list, Matlock has size and a ton of experience to play 4i in the NFL. He’s a likely seventh-round candidate with some athleticism. The Steelers may look at to round out their defensive line room though there’s been no reported interest in him.
Robert Beal/Georgia – Despite a total lack of depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, the Steelers haven’t drafted an EDGE rusher with one of their top four picks. Options seem thin on Day Three but Beal was brought in for a pre-draft visit. He’s super long and from Georgia, which is basically the two themes of Pittsburgh’s draft. Better production in 2021 than 2022 and could be a 7th-round option.
Isaiah McGuire/Missouri – A worthy suggestion by Dave Bryan, McGuire was one of the few pass rushers to give Broderick Jones fits this year. With size, power, and good bend for his frame, McGuire lacks top-end tools but profiles as a solid rotational #3 EDGE rusher with a good pass rush plan. An option at #132.
Habakkuk Baldonado/Pittsburgh – Steelers didn’t have to go too far to scout him. Like McGuire, he has some size and length though his production fell off big-time last season, ending 2022 with just a pair of sacks. Injuries are partly to blame for the dip. An option in the seventh round at 241 or 251.
Lonnie Phelps/Kansas – Phelps isn’t the biggest or longest but has a similar body type to Quincy Roche, a sixth-round pick in 2021 who circled back to the roster. Phelps, like Roche, transferred up and still produced. Phelps switched from Miami (OH) to Kansas and finished last year with 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He’s also an intense special teamer and should make a 53 for that alone.
Nick Herbig/Wisconsin – An EDGE rusher in college, Herbig isn’t big enough or long enough to stay there in the NFL and has basically admitted he’ll play off-ball on Sundays. Pittsburgh sent LBs Coach Aaron Curry to his Pro Day and Herbig tested well overall. At 6’2, 240, he’d have good size at inside linebacker in Pittsburgh, though his frame may still look a little tiny in how he carries that weight. Still, he’s a relentless player with production who will excel on special teams while he waits his turn. A serious option at #132.
Justin Ford/Montana – A potential late seventh-round option, though it’s more likely he goes undrafted. The Steelers have shown some interest in Ford throughout the pre-draft process. A 40 time in the 4.6s was far from ideal for him but he has top-end ball skills and picked off nine passes two years ago. The Louisville transfer may move to safety after playing corner in college.
Daniel Scott/Cal – A sixth-year player who went back to school to refine his game, Scott had a solid 2022 season and earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. But it was the Combine where he really grabbed draftniks’ attention with a 9.94 RAS. Scott was brought in for a pre-draft visit and remains on the board, a reminder of how uninspiring this safety class is.
Chamarri Conner/Virginia Tech – Conner is a safety slot with hit power and energy. Production tailed off later in his Hokies career, but he had great testing, a 9.16 RAS, and is a ferocious special teamer. Over 800 snaps there and wore #25 four times, a special jersey number retired for Frank Beamer and only given to special-teams standouts. Conner is viewed as a seventh-round pick but his testing may inch him up higher.
Anthony Johnson/Iowa State – Much of what can be said about Conner can be applies to Johnson. A safety/slot hybrid, Johnson is probably a bit better coverage guy than Conner. Johnson can separate player from ball with five forced fumbles throughout his Cyclones career. Johnson indicated he had an extensive conversation with the Steelers at his Pro Day.
Tanner Ingle/NC State – He got a pretty clear undraftable grade from me, but Ingle came in for a visit and, like Conner and Johnson, has slot/safety versatility. He wants to hit and be physical, but his small frame, missed tackles, and lack of coverage ability doesn’t add up to a draftable grade for me. But maybe the Steelers take a similar approach as they did with Tre Norwood.