This is the ninth in a 10-part series that concludes tomorrow, the day before the 2023 NFL Draft starts. Depot staff members offer their spin on a Steelers-related draft question.
In what (realistic) scenario would you consider trading up in the first round?
Dave Bryan: I think if the Steelers move up in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft it would be done to select a tackle, either Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. or Georgia’s Broderick Jones. The Steelers only have three tackles under contract for 2023: Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., and Le’Raven Clark. They must come out of their first two selections with a tackle.
Realistically, the farthest I can see the Steelers moving up is to the ninth overall spot, currently held by the Chicago Bears. That said, the Bears already have five picks in the first 103 selections, and they have already moved down eight spots once in the first round. Perhaps a more realistic trade-up partner, assuming one of Johnson or Jones is still on the board, would be the Tennessee Titans at 11th overall or the Houston Texans at 12th overall. That would still get the Steelers ahead of two teams that could still be possible suitors to draft a tackle in the form of the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
Trading up in the first round, however, would likely cost the Steelers their 17th-overall pick and their 49th. If they did that, I would expect them to then attempt trade down from the 32nd spot, the first pick in the second round, to recoup some draft capital, such as another fourth-round selection. Trading up to get one of Johnson or Jones would show conviction when it comes to possibly fixing the left tackle position and that I can get on board with.
Joe Cammarota: A realistic scenario I would consider trading up in the first round is for one of two cornerbacks: Christian Gonzalez from Oregon or Devon Witherspoon from Illinois. I am of the opinion that cornerback is a much bigger need than offensive tackle and the Steelers need the best talent possible there. While Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks may be available at 17, if around pick 10 Gonzalez or Witherspoon are there I think Omar Khan needs to jump on it. In a conference stacked with elite quarterbacks, grabbing a shutdown corner is so important.
While tackle help would be nice, Dan Moore Jr. has been progressing well over his first two years and I am excited to see how he plays in year three. If a good left tackle falls to 17, like Broderick Jones, I would not be opposed to taking one. But I am not of the opinion that the team needs to trade up for a left tackle.
Jonathan Heitritter: If I could surrender either #49 or #80 to move up into the bottom of the top 10 to land a guy like Christian Gonzalez, I’d do it. Paris Johnson Jr. would be tempting, but I’m not as high on his film as most. However, Gonzalez looks like a prototypical CB1 you put in the lineup and let him do his thing for the next decade. To part with a potential starter later in the draft for a Pro Bowl-caliber player? Ya… I’d make that trade.
Alex Kozora: To go get a tackle. Much as I love Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez, there’s a lot more corners than there are tackles. Go get a Paris Johnson or Broderick Jones. After that, there’s a fall-off, especially with true left tackles. Right tackles have a tough job, they block T.J. Watt and Maxx Crosby, but a RT is messier in trying to make the Steelers’ pieces fit. If there’s a spot for Omar Khan to be aggressive, it’s now.
There’s a great story comedian Bill Hader tells about meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger for the first time. Wanting to find an assistant, Schwarzenegger – as only he could – told Hader, “Find them. Show me your leadership capabilities.” That’s what I’m telling Omar Khan. Show me your leadership capabilities. Find a top tackle.
Matthew Marczi: I have to concur with Alex. The only scenario I would realistically entertain for trading up in the first round is if it enables them to land Paris Johnson Jr. or Broderick Jones. I don’t think any of the cornerbacks in this class, especially when weighed against the depth available at the position, merits that move. If you can stick Johnson or Jones at tackle for the next decade, you’ve really taken a big step in transforming your offense for the long haul. That is, of course, assuming he becomes the player you think he is.
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Previous Depot draft discussions:
Best draft pick in Steelers history