2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Go Trench-Heavy In Todd McShay’s Newest Mock Draft

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay dropped his latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft Tuesday, charting a clear path for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Upgrade the trenches. With the 17th pick, McShay starts things off by mocking the Steelers Georgia OT Broderick Jones.

Explaining the pick, he writes:

“Pittsburgh brought in Isaac Seumalo this March to shore up the interior offensive line, but there are still questions at offensive tackle. And protection is key when you have a young QB running the offense. Jones allowed zero sacks over 15 starts last season, showcasing quick feet and explosive upper-body power for the national champion Bulldogs, and he’d be a good value get at this point in the draft. Jones would also help open lanes for Najee Harris in the run game.”

Jones is regarded as one of the top tackles in this year’s class, arguably second-best behind Ohio State’s Paris Johnson with many viewing Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski as a guard instead of a tackle. In this mock, Skoronoski is still the first lineman off the board, going ninth, while Johnson is off the board at #13. Jones falling to #17 would be great value for Pittsburgh, looking for a long and pedigreed left tackle to cap off its o-line upgrades. In his first year as GM, Omar Khan has worked to improve Pittsburgh’s starters and depth, signing three offensive linemen – Isaac Seumalo, Nate Herbig, and Le’Raven Clark – in free agency.

In our pre-draft scouting report, here’s how we concluded Jones’ game.

“Jones is a prospect to be excited about in an offensive tackle class that has been labeled as “underwhelming”. With his natural athleticism, quality anchor strength, and ability to move and eradicate defenders, he should be a problem for defenders at the next level. He’s got a great blend of size, speed, and power to be able to profile well at left tackle, and could be a long-term piece for a franchise looking to add protection on the offensive line.”

And gave him a first-round grade. Jones checks all the boxes the Steelers look for and would be in contention to be the pick if he’s available at #17.

At the top of the second round, McShay mocks the Steelers Michigan DL Mazi Smith. He writes:

“Pittsburgh is typically strong up the middle, and it already has Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi in place. But considering the electrifying rushing attacks that the Steelers face in their division, securing depth at defensive tackle isn’t a bad call. At 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds, Smith’s game is all about power, and he’s a plug-and-play nose tackle in the NFL.”

Smith is one of the league’s strongest and top run stuffers and someone Pittsburgh’s shown interest in. If drafted, he would become the team’s Day One starting nose tackle and make up a formidable d-line bookended by Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi. Smith lacked high-end college production but occupied blockers and made more plays on tape than on the stat sheet.

In our scouting report, we wrote this on Smith.

“Smith projects well as a 0-tech nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, though he has good enough length and athleticism to kick further outside. The sheer strength is tantalizing and he flashes it just enough to make you think he could develop into an impact interior pass rusher. The only issue is the pass rush production is very low from his time at Michigan.”

Perhaps the biggest issue with him is a gun charge he pled guilty to last year. Over the last several years, Pittsburgh hasn’t drafted players with off-field issues and it’s one topic the team has likely done their homework on.

For the team’s final pick of McShay’s mock, he leaves the trenches and gives the Steelers South Carolina CB Cam Smith at #49.

“The Steelers replaced Cameron Sutton with Patrick Peterson, who turns 33 this July. Cornerback is a big question mark for them this season, and Smith utilizes his high-end instincts and speed to jump routes and come away with interceptions. He had six over four seasons and joins a team that tied for the league-lead there last season.”

A solid pick in an equally solid cornerback class. Cornerback is a need of the present and the future and Smith offers some inside/out versatility Pittsburgh could use after losing Cam Sutton. In our scouting report, we concluded:

“Overall, Cam Smith is as complete a cornerback prospect as you will see, with the desired size, physicality, and athleticism to dominate at the position in his transition to the NFL. Moreover, he is advanced when compared to the modern landscape of collegiate cornerbacks in his ability to dominate from any zone assignment, along with both press and off-man coverage. Needless to say, Smith is a playmaker in every sense of the word, looking to change the game on any given snap, often doing so at crucial points in games.”

And earned a strong first round grade with a comp to Stephon Gilmore. The problem with Smith is the Steelers’ seemingly lack of interest in him, not attending the South Carolina Pro Day with anyone other than a scout. But Smith would help solve a lot of Pittsburgh’s problems and is good value at #49.

Overall, it’s a solid class for the Steelers that fits needs and presents sound value. Not many complaints here. Again, click here to check out McShay’s mock that also features three straight quarterbacks going off the board to kick off the draft.

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