Even before the Kansas City Chiefs selected Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah No. 31 overall on Thursday night, attention had already turned to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who hold the 1st pick in the 2nd round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Steelers’ phone was already ringing for the No. 32 pick before Round 1 ended, per sources,” tweeted Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. “Multiple teams made calls to teams at the bottom of the first and were believed to be targeting Kentucky QB Will Levis. Now the bidding is underway for the first pick of Round 2.”
Jeremy Fowler: 4 Teams Have ‘Legitimate Interest’ in Pick No. 32
It would not be a surprise if the Steelers traded down in round 2, as the organization is currently without a selection in rounds 4-6, having traded the No. 120 overall pick to the New England Patriots on Thursday night as part of deal to move up to select Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, four teams have expressed “legitimate interest” in trading for the No. 32 overall pick. “Pittsburgh would need an aggressive offer to move off the pick, given the talent available to it should the Steelers stay put.”
It’s reasonable to think that the four teams in question include one or more of the following, all of whom are potentially in the market for a quarterback: The Detroit Lions (No. 34 overall), Los Angeles Rams (36), Seattle Seahawks (37), Las Vegas Raiders (38), Tennessee Titans (41) and Atlanta Falcons (44).
Meanwhile, there are still more than a few intriguing talents still available to the Steelers, headlined by Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., the son of former Steelers standout Joey Porter Sr. He’s one of four draft prospects who are seen as excellent fit for the Pittsburgh, a list that also includes Alabama safety Brian Branch (Alabama), edge rusher B.J. Ojulari (LSU) and tight end Darnell Washington (Georgia).
Other options at the cornerback position include Kelee Ringo (Georgia), Tyrique Stevenson (Miami) , Julius Brents (Kansas State) and Cory Trice Jr. (Purdue), not to mention Darius Rush and Cam Smith, the latter of whom played their college football at South Carolina.
A dark horse candidate is Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz, as is Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika, both of whom visited Pittsburgh during the pre-draft process.
Other quality options on defense include edge rusher Keion White (Georgia) and Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson.
It’s even conceivable — albeit relatively unlikely — that the Steelers could select another offensive tackle, this time from Ohio State.
“At 6-8 and 374 pounds with a ridiculous 87 7/8-inch wingspan, Dawand Jones is a massive human,” notes Mike DeFabo of The Athletic. “He projects more as a dominant run-blocking right tackle than the answer at left tackle, which is part of the reason he’s graded below many of his peers.”
The Steelers acquired the No. 32 overall selection in Nov. 2022, sending wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Bears in exchange for Chicago’s 2nd round pick.
Props to Jenna Harner for Predicting the Trade-Up for Broderick Jones
Meanwhile, it’s perhaps worth noting that Jenna Harner of WPXI Sports (Pittsburgh) correctly predicted that the Steelers would trade up to acquire Broderick Jones. Here’s what she said on the air on the afternoon of April 27, 2023:
And, for what it’s worth, Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus rated Pittsburgh’s trade as his favorite amongst the half-dozen deals that were executed on Thursday night.