Steelers' Top 2023 NFL Draft Targets to Benefit Kenny PickettApril 5, 2023
Steelers' Top 2023 NFL Draft Targets to Benefit Kenny Pickett
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to use the 2023 NFL Draft to get better around Kenny Pickett.
Pickett set the foundation for his career as the franchise's starting quarterback in 2022, and the team needs to provide the 2022 first-round pick with some reliable targets to build on that promising start.
Pittsburgh is in a good spot when it comes to the skill positions, as it has Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth.
Selecting a running back, wide receiver or tight end is not mandatory in the first round, and the Steelers could go after one of those spots in the mid-to-late rounds.
The Steelers need work on the offensive line, and that is the position they could attack with the No. 17 overall pick.
An offensive tackle who can protect Pickett for years to come would be a fantastic addition to an offense with plenty of its most important pieces already in place.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones seems to be the logical target at No. 17.
ESPN.com's Todd McShay and Pro Football Focus' Michael Renner both predicted that Jones would land with the Steelers. Renner has the Steelers trading up to No. 12 with the Houston Texans to take Jones. McShay kept the Steelers at No. 17.
McShay broke down why Jones would be such a good fit for the Steelers:
"Pittsburgh brought in Isaac Seumalo this March to shore up the interior offensive line, but there are still questions at offensive tackle. And protection is key when you have a young QB running the offense. Jones allowed zero sacks over 15 starts last season, showcasing quick feet and explosive upper-body power for the national champion Bulldogs, and he'd be a good value get at this point in the draft."
Pittsburgh has Dan Moore, Chukwuma Okorafor and Le'Raven Clark on the roster at offensive tackle.
The Steelers could use a young upgrade on the interior to have top-tier protection for Pickett.
Drafting an offensive tackle in the first round would also allow for better blocking for Harris, and that could only be viewed as a positive for him to support Pickett in the best way possible.
The Steelers should have eyes on Peter Skoronski from Northwestern and Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. Both players could be top 10 picks, but if they fall, the Steelers could make moves for them. If not, Jones would be a solid pickup to reinforce the offensive line.
Darnell Wright, OT Tennessee
Darnell Wright is the other offensive tackle option the Steelers could go after at No. 17.
The Tennessee product would be the best available tackle on the board if Skoronski, Johnson and Jones are chosen before the Steelers are on the clock.
ESPN.com's Jordan Reid predicted that Wright would land with the Steelers in his latest mock draft:
"Wright would give Pittsburgh a young dependable tackle option. He started 42 games in college, including 27 at right tackle. His top traits are his strength, physicality and sustain-and-strain ability. Wright's ascension since 2021 arguably has been the highest of any prospect in this class."
Drafting an experienced offensive tackle, and one who could play either side of the line, may intrigue the Steelers because of their current roster pieces.
Wright's versatility would not limit his competition in training camp to one side of the offensive line, and it would allow the coaching staff to mix him, Moore and Okorafor in the best positions possible to protect Pickett.
Offensive tackle should be the likely target of the 17th overall pick, but there is always a chance the Steelers go in a different direction.
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Steelers could be bold with the No. 17 pick and take a wide receiver, especially if the offensive tackle big board does not fall their way.
Boston College's Zay Flowers is one of the fastest risers in the draft class.
Flowers is starting to receive more first-round attention, as evidenced by his Wednesday visit with the New England Patriots, which was reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Flowers is a smaller, play-making style of wide receiver who may be too similar to Johnson and Pickens, but he also may be the best player available at his position by the time the Steelers pick.
A run on wide receivers could happen in the top 15 that takes Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnson and Jordan Addison off the board.
Flowers is coming off a 1,077-yard season in which he caught 78 balls and scored 12 touchdowns.
He is a dynamic, big-play threat who will help any NFL offense, and that is why the Steelers should at least be intrigued by his potential.
A Flowers-Johnson-Pickens trio would wreak all sorts of havoc across the AFC North, and it could be the pick that allows the Steelers offense to emerge as the best in the division.