2023 NFL Draft

Pre-Draft Visitors May Give Insight Into Steelers’ Plans For 2023 NFL Draft

As of this writing, we know 19 of the 30 scheduled or completed pre-draft visits for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Technically, there are 20 known visits scheduled that we are aware of but Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. doesn’t count against the 30 due to being a local product. Here is the current list below for reference:

At first glance of this list, you see a heavy emphasis on the offensive line and cornerback. Porter is considered by many to be the favorite at #17 overall in the first round should he be still on the board. Georgia’s Kelee Ringo and Maryland’s Deonte Banks check a lot of boxes as fringe first-round prospects. While Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence is likely out of play due to Pittsburgh overhauling the guard position in free agency, Ohio State OT Dawand Jones has gathered a lot of steam in recent weeks. He feels like a prime candidate to be the pick at either #17 or #32 at the top of the second round.

Thus, when you look at the names on the list above and the positions, you can start to paint a plausible draft strategy the Steelers may be looking to implement when they attack the draft in a few weeks. With such a heavy emphasis on OL and CB in their pre-draft visits and the sheer number of first- and second-round prospects scheduled to visit, it shouldn’t be a shock if that’s how Pittsburgh uses its first two pick in the draft.

Sure, Clemson DL Bryan Bresee or Alabama DB Brian Branch can’t be ruled out due to their connections to the team, but given the need combined with the interest at corner and offensive line (OT specifically), it would be smart to play the odds that this will be the direction Pittsburgh may choose to go. Personally, I could see a scenario in which Pittsburgh targets CB Joey Porter Jr. at #17 and look to see what OL it can land at #32. Should Porter be gone, the Steelers may opt to grab the OL they covet most, say Dawand Jones at RT, at #17 and use the first pick in the second round to draft one of several CB options they like after Porter.

After the first two selections things get more interesting. I wrote earlier about the Steelers potentially having a “Big Three” at defensive line with those names including Bresee, Florida’s Gervon Dexter, and Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton. Well, if Pittsburgh opts to pass on Bresee for OL and CB with their first two picks, #49 overall in the second round becomes a prime spot to take either Dexter (scheduled to visit) or Benton (visited). The Steelers could opt to take an IOL here, including TCU’s Steve Avila or Minnesota’s John Michael-Schmitz to potentially push Mason Cole for the starting C job. But given the need for more depth and a starter at NT, DL at #49 makes more sense.

The Steelers have been known for hitting on mid-round WRs, and they appear poised to try and do it again with Mississippi’s Jonathan Mingo and Purdue’s Charlie Jones having visited, and Michigan State’s Jayden Reed coming in for a visit. Mingo is likely a third/fourth-round prospect as is Reed; Jones is more of a fourth-round guy given his size and older age. Still, all three are slot-capable receivers that have also seen extensive time outside, fitting the mold of what Assistant GM Andy Weidl looks for as a position/scheme-diverse playmaker like our Alex Kozora mentioned in a recent podcast.

Along with the receivers, Pittsburgh has USC EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu scheduled for a pre-draft visit. He profiles as a third-round prospect who could bring much-needed depth and production behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at OLB. While we are all holding our breath to see if Bud Dupree does indeed come back, I could see a scenario in which Pittsburgh spends its third- and fourth-round picks on WR and EDGE, locking down a young, quality EDGE as well as a receiver that can play the slot and on the outside.

Finally, Pittsburgh has safeties Daniel Scott and Tanner Ingle in for visits as well. Both profile as more later-round prospects that land somewhere on Day Three, being more depth pieces and special teams contributors than potential staters. While Pittsburgh did sign Keanu Neal to help replace the loss of Terrell Edmunds and brought back S Damontae Kazee who can be a versatile DB, they can still stand to add another impactful S to the room. Names like Jordan Battle Ji’Ayir Brown could be in play at #80 or #120 as well with WR and EDGE, but should Pittsburgh target those first two positions, they may opt to grab S near the end of the draft.

This isn’t to say that Pittsburgh will target these positions in the order presented come draft day. The team must adjust to the flow of the draft in real time and make decisions based on who comes off the board and who falls to them. However, based on the names and positions that we know so far, I wouldn’t be shocked if Pittsburgh walks away from draft weekend having its draft somewhat mirror this blueprint.

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