The Pittsburgh Steelers have a few different areas on the roster they could address early in the 2023 NFL Draft. But Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport argued there’s one flaw for the Steelers more obvious than the others.
“The offensive line has long been an issue in the Steel City, and while that unit was better in 2022 than the year before, starting tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor are average players on a good day and liabilities on a bad one,” wrote Davenport.
With that in mind, Davenport projected three offensive tackles the Steelers could target early in the 2023 NFL Draft — Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright and Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron.
When describing Bergeron, Davenport wrote he has “all the tools to be a difference-maker” in the NFL. Davenport also called Wright an “immediate upgrade” for the Steelers.
Lastly, Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn described Skoronski as having excellent technique.
Steelers to Target Offensive Line Early in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The last time the Steelers drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft was 2012 with David DeCastro. He was the second lineman the Steelers choose in the first round during a three-year span from 2010-12.
With more than 10 years passing since those selections, it’s time for the Steelers to find another stud lineman in the draft, preferably an offensive tackle.
Skoronski, Wright and Bergeron all have the potential to become a DeCastro-type player in the NFL. Bleacher Report has all three of those offensive tackles ranked in its Top 33 overall players in the upcoming draft class.
Of those three tackles, Skoronski is held in the highest regard among media draft experts as of the middle of January. ESPN and Bleacher Report have him ranked as the No. 1 tackle and a Top 15 player in the 2023 draft. Pro Football Focus has Skoronski rated second-best behind Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson.
The Steelers hold the No. 17 pick in the first round this spring.
The Steelers Offensive Line Going Into the NFL Offseason
Not that the Steelers couldn’t use another offensive line, especially a stud. But Davenport may have exaggerated the need.
PFF ranked the Steelers 14th in pass protection and 16th in run blocking during 2022. That’s improvement from where PFF had the Steelers offensive line in 2021 — 15th in pass protection and 27th in run blocking.
In the final nine games of 2022, Pittsburgh averaged 146 rushing yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. The Steelers offensive line also gave up under 2.0 sacks per contest during that stretch.
Depending on how free agency goes, the Steelers might have a bigger need at cornerback or linebacker. Pittsburgh’s top cornerback, Cam Sutton, is a pending free agent. He will leave a big hole if not re-signed.
Even with Sutton, the Steelers finished ranked 20th in pass defense and tied for second-to-last in passing touchdowns allowed during 2022.
It’s also possible that the Steelers lose their top three inside linebackers to either free agency or salary cap cuts.
But the good news for Pittsburgh is they essentially have two first-round picks this year. In addition to the No. 17 selection, the Steelers possess Chicago’s second-round choice, which is No. 32 overall. Chicago ended the season with the worst record in the NFL, and their second-round pick will move up to No. 32 because the Miami Dolphins must forfeit their first-rounder this year.
If the Steelers are interested in Skoronski, they will have to pick him at No. 17. It’s pretty likely that he won’t even last that long.
But Wright and Bergeron could be in play at No. 32 if the Steelers elect to draft a defensive player with their first pick.