With about three months to go in the draft process, the Pittsburgh Steelers are widely expected to target defense or offensive line when they draft No. 17 overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
But there’s a wild card position that could enter the mix — wide receiver, especially if former Pitt wideout Jordan Addison is available.
While appearing on ‘The Not Just Football’ with host Cameron Heyward, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett discussed the dream scenario of Addison landing with the Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“That would be awesome.” Pickett said in response to the potential of a reunion. “We talked about playing in the NFL together while we were at Pitt. That’s like the college teammates’ dream, especially a quarterback-receiver, that kind of dynamic.”
With Pickett as his quarterback for two seasons, Addison posted 2,259 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in 24 games. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception.
Addison’s sophomore season was particularly great, as he led the ACC with 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. He was also one of two receivers in the conference with 100 catches.
Pickett Raves About Addison’s Speed
It’s not a big surprise that Pickett was an advocate for his former college teammate — a teammate who was a major help in the quarterback finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Pickett continued to be very complimentary about Addison and talked at length about the receiver’s greatest physical trait.
“I think people are kind of underestimating his speed,” Pickett said. “And the thing about Jordan is he runs routes [at his top] speed. There’s some guys who run 4.3, but they don’t play at that speed.
“That’s what’s impressive about him, is that he plays at that speed, he’s in and out of cuts at that speed.”
Pickett also said that Addison could run as fast as a 4.28 if he “got a good start” at the 40-yard dash during offseason workouts.
Addison missed Pickett during his junior season at USC. The receiver entered the transfer portal the same weekend the Steelers drafted Pickett last year. Addison eventually chose to play his junior season at USC.
But Addison still posted 59 receptions, 875 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns despite being in an entirely new offense without Pickett.
“I’m so proud of him and what he’s done during his college career,” said Pickett.
“He is an elite, elite receiver. Whoever gets him is going to get a special talent,” he added. “I’m really excited for Jordan and his future.”
Potential of the Steelers Drafting Addison at No. 17
The first question in the potential Pickett-Addison reunion is whether the former Pitt wideout will still be on the board for the Steelers at No. 17.
Pro Football Focus‘ Michael Renner ranked Addison the 23rd-best prospect in the 2023 draft class. But the ESPN and Bleacher Report consensus draft rankings both have Addison rated in the Top 15 players.
Addison is widely regarded as a Top 3 receiver in the upcoming draft. The last time three wideouts didn’t go in the top half of the first round was 2020.
Depending on what happens in free agency, the Steelers have other needs on defense the team needs to address. Furthermore, given the success of the organization drafting wide receivers on Day 2, it doesn’t seem necessary for the Steelers to pick a wideout in the first round to add another weapon.
However, the Steelers have seen first hand what re-uniting Joe Burrow with college teammate Ja’Marr Chase has done for the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Burrow-Chase connection, the Bengals have won two straight AFC North titles and earned a trip to the Super Bowl.
It would be weird to see the Steelers follow a draft plan from an organization they’ve largely dominated over the last 30 years. But there’s no denying Cincinnati’s recent success.
Following that blue print and drafting Addison in the first round would confirm Pittsburgh is fully bought in to Pickett as their franchise quarterback and could speed up the young signal caller’s development process.