The Pittsburgh Steelers had to do a little bit of maneuvering in order to get what they wanted during the 2023 NFL Draft, but they ultimately got the job done that they set out to do. With the offensive tackles coming off the board, they moved ahead of the New York Jets, three spots, to take Broderick Jones. That felt like the only draft slot where they actually had to work to get their guy.
“It fell our way”, Steelers president Art Rooney II acknowledged heading into day three, on Steelers Nation Radio. “I think it started with being able to trade up and get Broderick there. That was a key, and we were pretty sure that he wasn’t gonna be there at 17, so being able to make that trade was kind of a key to getting the whole thing started”.
And what a way to get things started. It was the first time the Steelers had used a first-round selection on an offensive tackle for the better part of three decades. Jones will have to earn his starting job, like everybody else, but they haven’t had many recent first-round picks who didn’t start right away.
But talk about falling your way, the Steelers were still able to draft one of their top first-round targets with the first pick in the second round. Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. was in the green room on night one, meaning he expected to go in the first round. It didn’t end up happening, but he still went at 32—which in most years would be a first-round selection.
While the other second-round selection of Wisconsin defensive lineman Keeanu Benton wasn’t necessarily regarded as some great value pick, it really felt like he was their target all along. And then being able to trade back and still have tight end Darnell Washington available toward the end of the third round—I would say that qualifies as the draft falling your way.
Even Nick Herbig in the fourth round—again, having traded back from their own initial selection—would seem at least on paper to have been good value, based on where he was projected to go before the draft. There are concerns due to his measurables whether he would be able to stick it out on the edge, however, no doubt a key reason he was available at 132.
You can definitely talk as well about seventh-round cornerback Cory Trice Jr., who reportedly fell due to concerns about his medicals. Many had him graded as a mid-round talent at worst, if not, for some, even a little bit higher than that.
Of course, most drafts will look good on paper. They rarely feel the same way five years on. Chances are we won’t look back on this class quite as fondly as we currently see it. But that’s up to the players and the coaches.