Despite having a draft that was consistently graded as one of the best in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell two spots in ESPN’s post draft power rankings. After an active free agency, Pittsburgh was ranked as the 13th best team in the NFL but has now dropped to 15th after the 2023 NFL Draft.
There are still ways to go and power rankings are just paper talk, but it is interesting to see the Steelers drop after their draft. Writing a blurb for the ESPN, Pittsburgh beat writer Brooke Pryor praised the team for improving its offensive line, saying that position group is where the Steelers improved the most this offseason.
“The Steelers made an aggressive move to get Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones in the first round, further boosting an offensive line that was lackluster in the first half of the 2022 season,” wrote Pryor. “Though the Steelers’ line got better in the second half of the season, the organization made significant moves to improve the group for 2023, not only by drafting Jones, but by signing former Eagles starting guard Isaac Seumalo and depth-helpful Nate Herbig.”
Under general manager Omar Khan and assistant general manager Andy Weidl, it was clear that the Steelers prioritized improving the trenches this offseason. Including free agency and the draft, Pittsburgh added five offensive linemen. While some of these additions, like guard Nate Herbig and tackle Le’Raven Clark most likely will not see the field much, depth is needed as injuries certainly happen.
One big reason for the Steelers’ drop in power rankings could be that their draft is great for the future but not necessarily right away. Picks such as linebacker Nick Herbig, cornerback Cory Trice Jr., and perhaps even tackle Broderick Jones may not see the field much in Year One. It’s very possible Jones is too raw to start the season as the starting left tackle, and Herbig is only going to be a rotational piece at EDGE if he sticks there. While there is great value and potential with the Trice draft pick, he likely will not see much action.
The Steelers’ contention window has just been cracked open and the team knows in a few years is when it could be the most dangerous. The team has potential this season but with loads of young talent it may take a couple seasons for it to fully gel and for the Steelers to become a powerhouse.