The Steelers Depot team is putting together their final mock drafts to predict what we think the Pittsburgh Steelers will do in the 2023 NFL Draft beginning on Thursday night. With such a large team who have done a great job this offseason, we’ll be combining a couple of the Depot mocks to avoid flooding the page with too many of them (though still, buckle up).
We’ll kick things off with Joe Clark and Ross McCorkle’s predictions on what the Steelers will do. Their mocks are below.
Round One, No. 17: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
I went back and forth a little bit here between Banks and Darnell Wright from Tennessee. After being pretty convinced all offseason the Steelers were going to take a corner in the first, the positional value of taking a corner versus an offensive tackle in such a deep corner class had me changing my mind. I just don’t think they’ll pass on a corner with Banks still on the board. There’s an argument to be had that he’s the third-most talented corner in the class. He uses his hands well, can play well in both man and zone and has some of the best footwork in the corner class. Even if they can get another corner in the second round, I don’t think they’ll pass on someone as talented as Banks.
Round Two, No. 32: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Harrison’s emerged as one of my favorite offensive tackle options in the draft. He’s a great pass blocker, uses his hands really well and is patient, rarely overextending against a pass rush. He’s also young at only 21 years old, and could spend a year as a backup before taking over for Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle in 2024. If the Steelers miss out on the top of the offensive tackle group, taking Harrison at No. 32 would make a lot of sense. I think he could be a top-15 starting tackle in the future.
Round Two, No. 49: EDGE Will McDonald, Iowa State
The only question is whether or not McDonald will last this long, but I’m banking on him having a tiny slide to make it to No. 49. The Steelers sent Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan to Iowa State’s Pro Day, and the team also had dinner with McDonald. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was the pick at No. 32, but with OT arguably a bigger need at this point than EDGE depth, the team waits here to get their guy with their original second-round pick. McDonald had five sacks, 36 tackles of which 7.5 were for a loss last year, and he would make a really solid third EDGE in Pittsburgh. He’s a very good athlete with an impressive spin move, and he’ll only get better learning from T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, McDonald is a potential home-run selection.
Round Three, No. 80: S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
Even after bringing in Keanu Neal, the Steelers need safety help. They find it here in Brown, a player who can play as a box safety, line up in the slot, and defend the run just as well as the pass. He had 10 interceptions over his final two seasons at Penn State, and he plays with a motor that stands out when you watch him on tape. He’s always going at 100%, and he’s always around the ball trying to make a play. At the Combine, Brown talked about his love of rushing the passer, and his versatility would pair really well with the Steelers’ current safety room.
Round Four, No. 120: Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas
NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline said last Friday that he believes the Steelers will have interest in the center class. By the fourth, guys like Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz and TCU’s Steve Avila will likely be off the board, so the Steelers grab a guy who they had a formal meeting with at the Combine in Ricky Stromberg. Stromberg is just an absolute tank of a human being who’s love of football came across in interviews with him at the Shrine Bowl and Combine. For my money, he’s one of the most underrated players in this draft class, and I think he could be next up in the long line of great Steelers centers.
While Mason Cole did his job well last year, I’m just not sure he’s the fit long-term and the Steelers need a backup at the position anyway. Taking Stromberg here and having him sit behind Cole for a year or two before taking over full-time would be a good move in both the short and long-term.
Round Seven, No. 241: Charlie Thomas, LB, Georgia Tech
Despite being undersized at 603 216 pounds, Thomas is a skilled tackler with 112 total during his fifth year at Georgia Tech. He’s a converted safety and his coverage ability was on display with two interceptions last season as a linebacker. If there’s one thing the Steelers have lacked in recent years, it’s off-ball linebackers with coverage ability.
Thomas is an interesting guy to target based off his safety background and coverage ability coupled with his nose for the football. He was one of the standouts during the Shrine Bowl, and he expressed interest in donning the black and gold in an interview with Steelers Depot. He could be a nice late-round pickup.
Round Seven, No. 251: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
While I think Pittsburgh’s preferred wide receiver target in the draft would be someone with punt and kick return ability, the level of interest they’ve demonstrated in Ford-Wheaton makes me think he’ll be the pick if he’s around at No. 251. They met with him at the Shrine Bowl and hosted him for a pre-draft visit coming off his best season at WVU, where he hauled in 62 receptions for 675 yards and seven touchdowns.
He had an impressive combine and his big frame makes him a weapon downfield, especially on jump balls. He could be a candidate to play the big slot role Pittsburgh likes if he winds up with the Steelers.
ROUND ONE (17TH OVERALL) – DARNELL WRIGHT/OT/TENNESSEE — 6053, 333 LBS
Analysis: The Steelers have made heavy investments at guard in each of the last two free agency periods and appear to be close to turning one of their worst groups in recent seasons into a true asset moving forward. The caliber of tackle that could step in and be a rookie starter in 2023 over Dan Moore Jr. or Chukwuma Okorafor won’t be available outside the first round, so if the team is serious about completing the overhaul then tackle has to be the pick.
The team has shown plenty of interest in Wright with a pre-draft visit and assistant GM Andy Weidl and offensive line coach Pat Meyer were present at his pro day. He has the size at 333 pounds that the team covets and will be plug-and-play at one of the two tackle positions.
ROUND TWO (32ND OVERALL) – FELIX ANUDIKE-UZOMAH/EDGE/KANSAS STATE — 6031, 255 LBS
Analysis: The team showed heavy interest in a reunion with Bud Dupree under a month ago. With a deal failing to materialize, the team currently has a need at outside linebacker. TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith have each had injury issues and having a solid third option protects against injury while also keeping all three rushers fresh throughout the season. In Alex Kozora’s edge rusher draft study Anudike hit the marks in every category that he participated in. The team also had him in for a top 30 visit. That is a lot of checked boxes and Anudike could help right away as the rotational pass rusher.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah Draft Profile
ROUND TWO (49TH OVERALL) – TYRIQUE STEVENSON/CB/MIAMI (FL) — 6003, 198 LBS
Analysis: Another pre-draft visitor. Patrick Peterson is in the twilight of his career and the team needs to invest in the secondary with two departures in free agency. Ike Taylor gave a pretty strong tip of the Steelers’ hand discussing Stevenson on the Bleav In Steelers Podcast. If Taylor is to be believed, he will not be available in the 3rd round, so if they like him that much 49th will have to do. He is lengthy and rangy as an athlete and he can play press-man as a boundary corner.
Tyrique Stevenson Draft Profile
ROUND THREE (80TH OVERALL) – JORDAN BATTLE/S/ALABAMA — 6010, 209 LBS
Analysis: Terrell Edmunds logged a ton of snaps throughout his time in Pittsburgh and that void will not be filled by Damontae Kazee alone. Battle projects well as a strong safety and it is reasonable to assume him and Minkah Fitzpatrick have at least some form of a relationship, both being safeties from Alabama. Battle would have a chance to instantly contribute a fair amount of snaps in his rookie season. The Steelers had a heavy presence at Alabama’s pro day too. He could also be an asset on special teams.
ROUND FOUR (120TH OVERALL) – MARTE MAPU/LB/SACRAMENTO STATE — 6030, 221 LBS
Analysis: Mapu had to pave his own way during this pre-draft process being from a small program. Initially an NFLPA Bowl standout, he got a late invite to the Senior Bowl and was also a standout at practice in Mobile. He is scheme diverse and can play either safety or linebacker, but he really stood out to me in Mobile as an inside backer with a surprising amount of power behind his hits. He has a chance to become a chess piece within the Steelers’ defense in sub package football and could also be a standout special teamer in the meantime.
ROUND SEVEN (241ST OVERALL) – ALEX FORSYTH/C/OREGON — 6037, 303 LBS
Analysis: There have been various reports, including one from Tony Pauline, that indicate the Steelers are looking to add a center in this year’s draft. Technically he said early in the draft, but if they miss out early Forsyth could be a good late round option. The ceiling probably isn’t that high on this player, but he plays with good fundamentals. Senior scouting assistant Kelvin Fisher was present at the Oregon pro day.
ROUND SEVEN (251ST OVERALL) – NOAH GINDORFF/TE/NORTH DAKOTA STATE — 6060, 263 LBS
Analysis: Zach Gentry returned to the Steelers on a one year contract, but that won’t stop them from adding to the position. They have at least some interest in the position as evidenced by them bringing in a TE for a pre draft visit. Gindorff has the solid NFL frame and takes pride in blocking as part of his game. The team needs a tight end that can block well for 12 personnel formations and with Gentry almost certainly gone after this year there will be an opening for TE2. A pair of season ending ankle injuries could push him far enough down to be great value in the 7th round.