The Pittsburgh Steelers started the rebuild last year by drafting Kenny Pickett at QB and adding new starters like Georgie Pickens to the offense. Despite a 9-8 record in 2022, the view of the general public and media is that the Steelers are a step behind in the AFC. The Steelers themselves feel like they are on the path to developing Pickett as a franchise QB and on the verge of being the perennial playoff team they have been for decades. Ultimately, the 2023 draft may have a huge influence on this. In this Pittsburgh Steelers 7-Round Mock Draft, we will explore some possibilities for them.
I’ve done plenty of mock drafts outlining the direction I think the Steelers will go (including some over at Steel City Insider). So, I wanted to take this one in a bit of a different direction. Utilizing the NFL Mock Drat Database and their Mock Draft Simulator allowed me to look at some different possibilities for the Steelers outside of the typical CB/LB/OT direction in Round, though I think they are likely heading that way.
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-Round Mock Draft
1.17: Brian Branch S/Alabama
There has not been much connection between the Steelers and Branch yet, but his poor Combine might allow him to fall into their laps. A prolific defender at Alabama’s STAR position, Branch played some Safety, Nickel CB, and more as a versatile piece in the run and pass game. That is what the Steelers need to compliment superstar Minkah Fitzpatrick. Branch can play in a more rotational role (similar to Dax Hill for the Bengals last year) as a rookie before stepping in as a starter in Year 2.
2.32: Darnell Wright OT/Tennessee
Wright is trending more and more to be a first round pick. The RT was absolutely dominant for the Volunteers this year, partially due to switching from LT to RT. He would allow for some shifting of the offensive line if needed to put the best 5 linemen out there for the Steelers. Chuks kicking to LT and Wright starting at RT would be ideal with Dan Moore as a swing back-up. But, don’t discount the possibility of Wright playing LT in the NFL.
2.49: Julius Brents CB/Kansas State
Mike Tomlin loves big, long press corners who can tackle. Brents showed all of that plus elite athleticism at the Combine. Though there are some games where Brents high cut back pedal and stiffer hips hurt him, his size made up for the difference. With many teams eyeing players like Brents and South Carolina’s Darius Rush on Day 2, the Steelers may have to snatch one of them up early. Getting a future boundary CB who can be a true #1 has to be on the priority list, even after signing Patrick Peterson.
3.80: Daiyan Henley LB/Washington State
After the Devin Bush experiment failed, the ILB position has been an absolute mess for the Steelers. Myles Jack was mediocre at best last year. It is such an important position for the defense. Getting someone who can not only thump in the run game but cover in a shallow zone or man with a RB/TE is important. Henley has flashed those abilities this past year as a great leader who can tackle downhill. He plays smart and can lead a defense with toughness. It feels like a great fit as a typical Steelers LB, and would be a great compliment to Cole Holcomb, rotating with Elandon Roberts.
4.120: Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR/West Virginia
The Steelers have not been shy about going after high end athletic WRs (see Chase Claypool). They also are close to the Mountaineer program to get good insight on Ford-Wheaton off the field. If everything lines up, he could be a midround target.
Ford-Wheaton blew up the Combine at 6’4, 221 running a 4.38 and killing the other testing. Against Pitt to open the season, he looked like the real deal, but didn’t do much else in WVU’s below average passing game for the rest of the season. Could the Steelers unlock a starter out of him?
7.234: Keondre Coburn NT/Texas
The 344 pound Nose Tackle would be a steal this late if the simulator is correct. With his best game of the season against Alabama, Coburn shows explosiveness for a big guy. He can get after the passer a bit but has the wingspan and range to two-gap in the run game. Though not an elite agility athlete, there is potential to be a starting Nose, or at least provide depth along the DL.
7.241: Juice Scruggs iOL/Penn State
Scruggs is a versatile interior depth piece the Steelers need. The Nittany Lion displayed great strength and toughness in the run game this year at Center, but can also kick over to Guard is needed. Explosive off the snap, Scruggs has that “pop” you can hear when he engages. Though he won’t be a pulling guard or wow with his athletic ability, the toughness inside fits the “Steelers Way”
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