Steelers' Worst-Case 2023 NFL Draft Scenarios

Joe TanseyApril 19, 2023

Steelers' Worst-Case 2023 NFL Draft Scenarios

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on prior to a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have a clearer set of 2023 NFL draft needs after the Allen Robinson trade.

    Pittsburgh now has Robinson, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens at the top of the wide receiver depth chart.

    That will probably lead to the Steelers avoiding the position with the No. 17 overall pick to focus on other needs.

    The Steelers could use help at cornerback to find a long-term successor to Patrick Peterson if the veteran leaves after one season.

    Pittsburgh could also use additions on the offensive line to protect Kenny Pickett in his second season.

    There is a chance that the premier offensive line or defensive back prospects are not available by the time the Steelers are on the clock, and that might force them to trade up instead of waiting around to pick a player from another spot on the field.

    Here are the worst-case scenarios for Pittsburgh entering draft night.

Run on Cornerbacks Happens in Top 15

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    WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) lines up on defense during an NCAA football game against the Purdue Boilermakers on September 1, 2022 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Steelers will have their eyes on the top three cornerback prospects: Penn State's Joey Porter Jr., Illinois' Devon Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon.

    Porter could be viewed by some Steelers fans as the ideal pick because his dad played eight seasons at linebacker for the franchise.

    The Athletic's Dane Brugler projected Porter Jr. would be the Steelers' pick at No. 17, but he also predicted that Gonzalez and Witherspoon would be top-10 picks.

    An early run on corners would be devastating to the Steelers' draft plans. They want all three prospects to fall out of the top 10.

    In that scenario, the Steelers would only have to worry about the New England Patriots as a serious threat to landing a premier corner.

    The worst-case situation is displayed in Brugler's mock, as the Detroit Lions landed Gonzalez at No. 6. The Lions could be in the cornerback market after they traded Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons.

    The Las Vegas Raiders could go in the cornerback direction at No. 7 if the run on quarterbacks occurs inside the top five, which it could given the demand at that position in the NFL.

    Corners going to Detroit, Las Vegas and New England, or a surprise team in the top 15, could force the Steelers to redefine their draft strategy on the fly on April 27.

No Top Offensive Tackle Prospects Are Left

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    EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 05: Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on November 05, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Steelers also need to have a trio of offensive linemen on their minds when watching the first round play out.

    Northwestern's Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones out of Georgia and Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. could all land in the top 15.

    ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had those three players and Tennessee's Darnell Wright selected in the top 16 of their latest mock draft.

    Jones, Johnson and Wright were projected to land in three of the four picks directly ahead of the Steelers at No. 17.

    The potential run on offensive linemen could happen earlier than the one on cornerbacks because there is a premium on protecting quarterbacks in the NFL.

    The New York Jets, New England Patriots and Washington Commanders all need help on the offensive interior, and they could block Pittsburgh's path to landing one of the top pass protectors.

    Pittsburgh could use some competition for Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor as it looks for the best possible protection for Pickett.

    A trade with New York or New England may be required to land an offensive lineman, but if both AFC East teams have a need at that spot on the field, they may not be willing to deal with an AFC rival.

Baltimore Trades into Spots Ahead of No. 17

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    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 01: Isaiah Likely #80 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with his teammates Ben Powers #72 of the Baltimore Ravens and Mark Andrews #89 of the Baltimore Ravens after scoring a touchdown during an NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens possess some of the NFL's biggest unknowns going into the NFL draft.

    The Lamar Jackson contract situation has not come to an end. The Ravens could keep Jackson or pull off a blockbuster trade in the week before the draft.

    If the Ravens keep Jackson, they could make a move up from No. 22 to add help for their franchise quarterback.

    Baltimore already added Odell Beckham Jr., but his impact is not guaranteed because he did not play last year and is coming off a torn ACL.

    The Ravens may have their eyes on one of the young wide receivers in the draft class. That would provide some insurance in case Beckham does not work out in Baltimore, and it would allow it to add a cheaper contract to the books instead of adding another veteran.

    The Green Bay Packers at No. 15 or Washington at No. 16 could be willing to make deals with any team because that would allow them to collect an extra draft pick or two.

    Green Bay needs to fill out its roster with Aaron Rodgers' departure looming, and the Commanders have holes across their depth chart.

    The Steelers can't do anything about who the Packers or Commanders trade with, unless they make a deal of their own.

    A Baltimore trade into No. 15 or No. 16 to select a wide receiver for Jackson to work with would be a blow to Pittsburgh from a competition standpoint in the AFC North.