Earlier today, PFF’s Sam Monson released a mock draft in which he pretended to be the general manager for each team and picked the players he thought fit best. Understandably, the first round looked quite a bit different than it would in a typical mock draft, although the name mocked to the Pittsburgh Steelers is a common one. Monson has the Steelers taking Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.
The biggest initial surprise in Monson’s mock draft is Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who’s currently projected to be the first-overall pick in most mocks, falling out of the top five and landing at No. 6. The Tennessee Titans traded up for Stroud, who went behind fellow quarterbacks Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young and Will Levis. Both Pitt defensive lineman Calijah Kancey and Alabama safety Brian Branch went in the top 10, while Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison landed at No. 16 with the Washington Commanders. With Harrison, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. off the board, Monson opted for Jones while acting as Pittsburgh’s GM.
“The weakest link on Pittsburgh’s line is at tackle; the only question is which side. They’ll be linked to cornerbacks more often than not here, but I think tackle is the more acute need. Broderick Jones will be the No. 1 tackle on some boards, and while I don’t quite have it that way, the gap between him and my top tackle isn’t a big one. This is excellent value at a position of need,” he wrote.
It’s clear he felt tackle was a bigger need than cornerback because the very next pick was a player who many have as the top cornerback in the draft, with the Detroit Lions selecting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. While I personally think cornerback is a more pressing need and that the Steelers are content entering 2023 with Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor as the their two starting tackles, Monson doesn’t. So, for the purpose of this mock, the selection would make some level of sense.
Jones gave up just two sacks in his college career and was an AP first-team All-SEC selection for the undefeated Bulldogs in 2022. He only gave up two sacks in his college career and was a former top-30 recruit nationally. He has the pedigree Pittsburgh likes in its draft picks, and if the Steelers want to address offensive tackle, he’s the most likely of the top tackles to still be on the board at No. 17. Last week, NFL analyst Charles Davis said that the Steelers absolutely “need” to draft Jones, as well. He doesn’t have a ton of college experience outside of 2022 though, so he might need a year to develop and adjust to the NFL.
Either way, this mock isn’t really indicative of much; it’s just Monson’s personal thoughts. But it’s nice to see mocks that at least attempt something different, and it’s interesting to see the thought process behind some of the picks. While I highly doubt the Steelers would pass on Gonzalez if he somehow lasted all the way to No. 17, seeing the board shake out in a different way is always nice to see. And Jones is certainly an option for Pittsburgh at No. 17 regardless. It wouldn’t be that surprising to see the team select him in the first round later this month.