2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Depot Team Final Mock Draft Predictions: Tyler Wise & Tom Mead

The Steelers Depot team is putting together its 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 number 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).

Here are Tyler Wise and Tom Mead’s predictions.

Tyler Wise


Analysis: The dots connecting the Steelers to this pick have been apparent since high school when Porter Jr. emerged as one of the nation’s top recruits. Now that the son of a former Steelers player and coach is eligible for the draft, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers passing on the opportunity to keep the talented cornerback in the family business. While Darnell Wright would have been a great fit for Pat Meyer’s scheme, the Steelers need a left tackle more than a right tackle and it’s doubtful Ohio State’s Paris Johnson falls all the way to 17.

Nevertheless, Porter Jr. is an excellent choice and far from a consolation prize. He’s expected to be the team’s franchise cornerback of the future, and winds up in a great spot learning from veteran Patrick Peterson. Porter Jr. brings elite length and experience in both man and zone coverage, although he still has some areas to refine in his game. Overall, this is a fantastic opportunity for Porter Jr. to come into a winning team and be eased into the starting lineup.

Others considered: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee; Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland; Brian Branch, S, Alabama

Joey Porter Jr. Draft Profile


Analysis: It may be a bit of a surprise that the Steelers target an interior lineman rather than a tackle, but the team hasn’t been shy in its interest in players with center experience throughout the pre-draft process. With a likely run on tackles between their first pick and #32, the Steelers are able to land the clear-cut best center in the class in John Michael Schmitz. The Steelers are likely still kicking themselves for swinging and missing on Kendrick Green and while they found a solid starter in Mason Cole, it’s not certain he’s the long-term answer at the pivot.

Schmitz can immediately contend for the starting spot at center and continue building on the mauler type that the team has been coveting in the middle of the offensive line.

Others considered: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia; Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan; Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State

John Michael Schmitz Draft Profile


Analysis: One of the most glaring weaknesses on the Steelers is their lack of EDGE depth. Beyond T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, there’s little to no depth at the position. Enter Felix Anudike-Uzomah, a skilled pass rusher with a good repertoire of moves who can provide immediate help off the edge. Although he’s still developing as a run defender and may require some time to adjust to standing up as a 3-4 OLB, his addition would be a significant upgrade to the team’s depth at the position. As a rookie, Anudike-Uzomah would likely see a considerable number of snaps and provide valuable contributions to the defense.

Others considered: Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin; Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami; Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn

Felix Anudike-Uzomah Draft Profile 


Analysis: The defensive line depth will clear out fast with this class. The Steelers don’t wait on getting one of their guys a little earlier than he likely warrants going. Karl Brooks was one of the biggest Combine snubs, but his tape showcases an athletic, highly productive defensive lineman out of the MAC. With the team’s history of drafting players from that conference, it would be no surprise, especially after Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar attended Brooks’ Pro Day at Bowling Green. He has the ability to play at multiple positions along the line of scrimmage and, like Anudike-Uzomah, he’s still refining his run defense. Brooks reminds our own Alex Kozora of Larry Ogunjobi and now he can learn underneath him.

Others considered: Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State; Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri; Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane

Karl Brooks Draft Profile


Analysis: It’s clear that the Steelers are focusing on improving their run game, and a big part of that is having strong blocking from their tight ends. Tight Ends Coach Alfredo Roberts attended only two Pro Days this year, one of which was at Penn State. With that in mind, the Steelers select Brenton Strange, who is one of the best blocking tight ends in this draft class. He can step onto the field from day one and make an immediate impact in the run game. But Strange is not just a one-dimensional player. He also possesses impressive athletic ability, with good speed and the strength to create yards after the catch.

Others considered: Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State; Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue; Juice Scruggs, OC, Penn State

Brenton Strange Draft Profile


Analysis: I can hear the groans already about the team waiting this long to address the tackle position. However, Andy Wiedl had his hand in striking gold in the late rounds for an offensive lineman with the Eagles, Jordan Mailata being the best example. Kadeem Telfort is a massive human being with 36″ arms. The former Florida Gator does carry some red flags with a credit card scandal in 2017 that ultimately caused him to leave the program. After a few JUCO stops he wound up at UAB. However, he’s matured and was the Blazers’ captain in 2022 when he helped carve out running lanes for the FBS’s second-leading rusher (DeWayne McBride).

He’s extremely raw, especially as a pass protector, but he gives OL Coach Pat Meyer a brand-new project.

Others considered: Broderic Martin, DT, Western Kentucky; Trevor Reid, OT, Louisville; Habakkuk Baldonado, EDGE, Pitt

Kadeem Telfort Draft Profile


Analysis: Another groan-worthy pick, but it’s not hard to imagine the Steelers grabbing what they view as a developmental QB3 in this draft. They historically won’t be able to compete with the guaranteed money that UDFA QBs draw so they go ahead and pick BYU’s Jaren Hall. Hall was brought into Pittsburgh for one of their top-30 visits and has shown great efficiency during his time with the Cougars, boasting a TD:INT ratio of greater than 4:1. At 25 years old, he may have fallen down some draft boards, but his mobility and above-average arm strength provide the potential for him to be groomed as a future backup to Kenny Pickett. Compared to last year’s late-round QB pick Chris Oladokun, Hall enters a more favorable roster position.

Others considered: Daniel Scott, S, California; Cory Durden, DT, NC State; Chamarri Conner, S, Virginia Tech

Jaren Hall Draft Profile

Tom Mead

Here we are. Draft week. And I couldn’t be more confused as to how this whole thing is going to play out for the Steelers. Omar Khan and his brain trust have been aggressive up to this point and free agency has filled some gaps with likely short-term plugs and that makes the “need-to-draft” aspect of this year a little less critical.

I personally think there are not a lot of first-round graded players in this draft so moving down could be a possibility. However, I can also see the Steelers moving up in the first to get a player they want and then trading down from pick 32 to recoup the picks they use to move up. Khan could be more aggressive than Kevin Colbert. Then again, two thirds of the triumvirate of pick makers are still intact so they can just sit and wait where they stand.

Is there such a thing as middle-heavy? I think the deepest part of this draft is with role players who will provide depth to the NFL roster and not be relied upon as starters initially. In the third through fifth round, I think there is talent to be had. Let’s get to it because you probably skipped reading all of this anyway.

ROUND 1 (#17 OVERALL): Broderick Jones OT Georgia 6053 311

Analysis: Prior to doing about 50 mock drafts this morning and doing some research I was going to change this pick. But then I read Darnell Wright could be the first tackle off the board! Draft smoke or reality? I checked the Vegas odds for top offensive lineman to get drafted and they have Paris Johnson and Peter Skoronski with close odds to be the top lineman chosen. Darnell Wright was third with Jones a distant fourth. So maybe he will be there at 17 or the Steelers could go get him at pick 10 or 11.

He is athletic and long and won’t turn 22 years old until May. If you’re going to draft a tackle in the first round it should be one who can certainly play left tackle if not both tackles spots. Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor each are under contract through 2024. Jones could push them both, trying to earn a starting spot.

Mike Tomlin and Khan attended his Pro Day, they saw him at the Combine, and he was one of three tackles brought in for visit.

Jones Profile

Others Considered: Darnell Wright OT Tennessee, Deonte Banks CB Maryland, Joey Porter Jr. CB Penn State, Brian Branch DB Alabama

ROUND 2 (#32 OVERALL): Bryan Bresee DT Clemson 6050 305

Analysis: It wasn’t that long ago that Bresee was mocked to the Steelers in the first round. As Big Boards get finalized prior to the draft he has settled in more toward the 35th- to 45th-ranked player. That could work out nicely for the Steelers, who have shown interest in him Bresee.

Hearts and smarts are the mantra of the organization, and he fits those criteria. He won’t turn 22 until mid-season and he is still a bit raw, but he can soak up all that Cam Heyward has to teach him. A wide body with a good motor and athletic ability, he should be able to play multiple spots along the defensive line as he hones his technique. Injuries have been an issue for him so there is some risk.

Tomlin, Khan and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar were at his Pro Day, they saw him at the Combine, and they brought him in for a visit.

Bresee Profile

Others Considered: Will McDonald EDGE Iowa State, Darnell Washington TE Georgia, LB Drew Sanders Arkansas

ROUND 2 (#49 OVERALL): Julius Brents CB Kansas State 6026 198

Cornerback is a position where the Steelers need to add some youth. With cornerback being one of the deepest position groups of the draft they can wait until day two to select a corner. The team added Patrick Peterson in the offseason, and he could be a mentor for Brents in his rookie season.

He has an aggressive playing style to go along with his impressive size and length. He has experience in Zone and Man coverage, but his best fit is in a Man-coverage scheme where he can get his hands on receiver to jam and disrupt their release. Along with being a Steeler corner, you must support the run and he does his part.

The Steelers saw him at the Senior Bowl, Combine and brought him in for a visit.

Brents Profile

Others Considered: D.J. Turner CB Michigan, Jack Campbell LB Iowa, Felix Anudike-Uzomah EDGE Kansas State

ROUND 3 (#80 OVERALL): Luke Schoonmaker TE Michigan 6052 251

Analysis: Zach Gentry was re-signed so this may not technically be a position of need. The Steelers do need a tight end who can block more consistently. None of Gentry, Pat Freiermuth, or Connor Heyward are excellent blockers, but they still have room to grow. After the second-half success running the ball last year, we could expect more two-tight end offensive looks. The use of two-tight end sets doubled after the bye week and three-tight end sets went up from 8 to 29 in the second half of the season.

Schoonmaker can come in and immediately be the best blocking tight end of the group as well as the fastest. He positions himself very well, has good footwork and balance and active hands to combat defenders. He can align inline, on the wing, in the slot and as a fullback, which could mean the Steelers don’t bring Derek Watt back. He’s a solid route runner and knows how to use physicality to create separation. And he has room to add some muscle and play strength.

Tomlin, Khan and tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts were at this Pro Day. They saw him at the Combine and the Shrine Bowl as well.

Schoonmaker Profile

Others Considered: Tyrique Stevenson CB Miami (FL), Jonathan Mingo WR Mississippi, Derek Hall Edge Auburn, Cedric Tillman WR Tennessee, Cody Mauch IOL North Dakota State

ROUND 4 (#120 OVERALL): Anthony Johnson Jr. S Iowa State 6000 205

Analysis: The strong safety position is lacking on the roster. The interesting thing is that the Steelers don’t seem to have shown a lot of interest in the position. I’m sure they have a plan. We just don’t know what it is. Could they have found someone they liked early in the process? In late March at Iowa State Pro Day, Johnson, Jr was worked out by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. He also said the Steelers see him as a safety/nickel defender.

My first mock, I had him in the second round frankly because I hadn’t watched him yet and didn’t know where to put him. After doing his profile, I came away thinking he fits the Steelers’ defense. He switched to safety after four years starting outside. While he is still learning the position, he was an active communicator, showed awareness in coverage and potential as a blitzer. Against the run, he’s very physical blowing up blockers and a good tackler. He played in the slot, box and deep and could be another versatile piece on the defense.

Tomlin, Khan and Austin were at his Pro Day, and the team also could have seen him at the NFLPA Bowl.

Johnson, Jr Profile

Others Considered: Clayton Tune QB Houston, Karl Brooks DT Bowling Green, Byron Young EDGE Tennessee, Jayden Reed WR Michigan State, Tyler Steen OT Alabama

ROUND 7 (#241 OVERALL): Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR West Virginia 6040 221

Analysis: The recent addition of Allen Robinson gives the team a veteran presence in the wide receiver room. Diontae Johnson and George Pickens are a nice 1-2 punch. The element that is missing is the speed receiver to take the top off the defense and possibly lure safeties away from the other receivers.

Ford-Wheaton has impressive size and 4.38 speed. Add in a 41.5-inch vertical leap and you have the makings of a downfield threat who can win the jump ball. He also would add another tall target in the red zone for Kenny Pickett. He doesn’t have return experience, but he could profile as a gunner on punts. I’m not convinced the Steelers won’t take a receiver on day two like they have so often done but if they don’t, this could be the direction they go.

The team saw him at the Combine, the Shrine Bowl and he came in for a local visit.

Ford-Wheaton Profile

Others Considered: Marte Mapu LB/S Sacramento State, Mitchell Tinsley WR Penn State, Matt Landers WR Arkansas, Jon Gaines IOL UCLA

ROUND 7 (#251 OVERALL): Robert Beal Jr. EDGE Georgia 6036 247

Analysis: I’ll round out my Killer B’s draft (Broderick, Bresee, Brents and Bryce) with Beal. So, the draft starts with a Georgia player and ends with a Georgia player. The depth behind Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt was not effective last season. The Steelers brought back former draft pick Quincy Roche, and DeMarvin Leal was used out there as well. Beal was part of a very deep Georgia roster, and he can compete for a spot behind the starters.

He was statistically limited while playing on such a good defense but did have 6.5 sacks in 2021 and 10 for his career. He has good size and length with 34 5/8th inch arms to play on the edge. His best pass rush move is a bull rush but I’m sure outside linebacker coach Denzel Martin would love to get a chance to work with him.

Tomlin, Khan and Austin were at his Pro Day, they saw him at the Shrine Bowl and brought him in for visit.

Beal Jr Profile

Others Considered: Cory Durden DL North Carolina State, Jose Ramirez EDGE Eastern Michigan, Cameron Young DL Mississippi State, Ventrell Miller LB Florida, Brodric Martin DL Eastern Kentucky

I didn’t take an inside linebacker because unfortunately the Steelers have shown so little interest in the position group. Conversely, they showed a lot of interest in the interior offensive line, and I didn’t choose a player there either. The good news is if you hate this mock draft have no fear. I never get any right.

Is it Thursday yet?

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