As a whole, the AFC North had a strong draft top to bottom as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens all added impactful rookies to strong rosters, including the likes of Pittsburgh’s Broderick Jones, Cleveland’s Cedric Tillman, Cincinnati’s Myles Murphy and Baltimore’s Zay Flowers.
While the entire division seemingly improved during the three-day draft in Kansas City, one franchise stands above the rest for Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema when it comes to the most-improved team in the AFC North after the 2023 NFL Draft.
That team? You guessed it: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Their first two selections — Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. — can start early on this season. Meanwhile, Keeanu Benton, Darnell Washington and Nick Herbig should all play solid contributing roles in Year 1 with starting potential in their future,” Sikkema writes highlighting the Steelers as the most-improved team in the AFC North after the draft. “When you throw in cornerback Cory Trice, a player who has starting-level talent and potential when healthy, as their seventh-round selection, it’s easy to see how the Steelers improved in a big way.
“The AFC North, as a whole, got better on draft weekend, but the Steelers improved every level of their depth chart from immediate starters to key depth players.”
The Steelers truly hit a home run in the 2023 NFL Draft, putting together one of the best draft classes in the league, and one of the best ones in recent franchise history. The further and further removed from the draft we get, the more that becomes apparent, at least on paper, with the haul the Steelers put together.
Trading up for Broderick Jones to land the Georgia product at No. 14 was a savvy move by GM Omar Khan, leapfrogging the New York Jets to secure the left tackle in the first round. Then, the board fell perfectly for Pittsburgh as Joey Porter Jr. was on the board to open Day 2, where the Steelers landed him at No. 32 overall.
After that, the selection of Keeanu Benton shored up the defensive line, while Pittsburgh gambled with a trade down from No. 80 to No. 93 overall, picking up a fourth-round pick in the process that was previously lost in the trade up for Jones, that Georgia tight end Darnell Washington would still be on the board.
That gamble paid off as the Steelers secured the freakish tight end, and then added Nick Herbig, Cory Trice Jr. and Spencer Anderson to close out the day.
On paper, at least, the Steelers landed a handful of starters at some point in the 2023 season with the likes of Jones, Porter Jr., Benton, Washington and maybe even Trice, assuming health. That’s a remarkable haul overall for the Steelers and very clearly gives them the best draft class in the division.
Based on what Pittsburgh did in the offseason in free agency too, there’s no denying the Steelers are much-improved ahead of the 2023 season.