Mike Tomlin has yet to have a losing season in his 16-year tenure as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. No one in the Steelers’ front office expects that to change any time soon.
Of course, the Steelers can’t simply continue to remain in the mix without adding talent to their roster via the 2023 NFL Draft. Yet, there’s a stronger sense of urgency this season after missing the playoffs in 2022.
Feeling like they have their quarterback for the next ten seasons, the Steelers can afford to swing for the fences if they wish. Now it’s more about adding complementary pieces to help maximize Pickett and Najee Harris’s potential.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
With general manager Omar Khan taking over roster-molding duties from Kevin Colbert, we’ll see the Steelers’ new lead decision-maker champion their effort to return to the postseason. It will be Khan’s first year in the leading chair, which could lead to a unique approach throughout draft weekend.
Before diving into our Steelers mock draft, here’s a rundown of their needs and draft picks.
Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks 2023
Here are the Steelers’ draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Round 1: 17th overall
- Round 2: 32nd overall
- Round 2: 49th overall
- Round 3: 80th overall
- Round 4: 120th overall
- Round 7: 234th overall
- Round 7: 241st overall
Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors
Pittsburgh Steelers draft needs 2023
Here are the Steelers’ current draft needs before the 2023 NFL Draft.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order
Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft
First round, 17th overall: Joey Porter Jr., cornerback, Penn State
Adding talent to the cornerback was already a need heading into the offseason, then the Steelers lost Cam Sutton in free agency when he signed a three-year, $33 million contract with Detroit. While replacing him with future Hall of Fame cornerback Patrick Peterson is a fair solution, it doesn’t really provide any long-term security.
Drafting a player like Joey Porter Jr., on the other hand, would be simply magical for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Obviously, if there’s any team to continue his dad’s great NFL legacy that included four Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl Trophy, it’s the Steelers.
The younger Porter embodies many of the same traits, except instead of being an intimidating pass-rusher, Jr butters his bread by making life difficult for receivers. Porter is lengthy at 6-foot-2, with 34-inch arms and it shows, by having a 40% forced incompletion rate per Pro Football Focus, which led all cornerbacks in the Power Five.
Related: 5 best moves of NFL free agency so far: 49ers, Eagles and Steelers find great value
Size isn’t a question for Porter Jr. and with a bit of seasoning, with the All-Pro Peterson helping show him the ropes, there’s no reason why he can’t emerge as a No. 1 corner. While Minkah Fitzpatrick is an absolute ballhawk, Porter Jr. would bring more physicality and toughness to the Steelers’ secondary, and coach Mike Tomlin would absolutely love it.
Second round, 32nd overall: Dawand Jones, offensive tackle, Ohio State
You could make a legitimate case for an offensive tackle to be Pittsburgh’s first draft choice. We opted against that route, knowing how deep of a draft class this is for offensive tackles. There’s no reason why a starter can’t still be found with the 32nd or possibly even the 49th pick, but waiting until 49 feels extremely risky.
Thanks to this year’s deep class of tackle prospects, we believe the Steelers won’t be pressured to draft for need and can focus on sticking with the best pick available approach, which could help bring more blue-chip talent to the roster.
In this case, we like a player like Dawand Jones to still be available with the selection Pittsburgh got from the Chase Claypool trade. Jones is an absolute mountain at 6-foot-8, 374 pounds. This large base also comes with a great amount of strength which should help cause avalanches in the running game. Yet, as you can imagine, he may not be built to handle left tackle.
But who knows? Jones didn’t allow a single sack during his final year at Ohio State, and only allowed three the year prior. Of course, all of these snaps were at his most-natural position, which is at right tackle. Still getting a day-one starter who could transform the running game while also holding his own in pass protection would be a big win for Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris.
Second round, 49th overall: Siaki Ika, defensive tackle, Baylor
Sticking with the big man theme, Siaki Ika is also one of the more intimidating presences in this year’s talent pool. Despite being a natural run-stuffer at 6-foot-3, 335 pounds, Ika has shown a few flashes as a pass rusher too. In 2021, Ika recorded 33 pressures, thanks to having a quick first-step and understanding how to use his leverage to his advantage.
While his potential as a pass-rusher certainly raises Ika’s ceiling, the Steelers, and any other team interested in the Salt Lake City, Utah native would be drafting him for his ability clog rushing lanes. The big question is can he become an effective three-down player? If so, just imagine him in the middle of the Steelers’ line with Larry Ogunjobi and Cam Heyward working by his side.
Third round, 80th overall: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
We’ll close out Day 2 the same way Day 1 started, and that’s continuing to add more playmakers to the secondary. Chances are, Alabama’s Jordan Battle won’t still be available in the middle of the third round, but if he is, the Steelers would have a hard time passing up on what may be one of the better safeties in this year’s draft class.
Battle brings four years of starting experience who has a high football IQ, yet his range won’t be confused for a centerfielder. Maybe that’s why he’s the ideal prospect to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick, who covers a lot of ground at Acrisure Stadium. Still, Battle’s physicality can add a unique element to this secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft 2023: 7-round projection
- 1st Round, 17th overall: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
- 2nd Round, 32nd overall: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
- 2nd Round, 49th overall: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
- 3rd Round, 80th overall: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
- 4th Round, 120th overall: Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama
- 7th Round, 234th overall: BJ Thompson, EDGE, Stephen F. Austin
- 7th Round, 241st overall: Brenton Strange, TE, Penn State
Related: Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2024 winner