Speculation that the Pittsburgh Steelers could draft wide receiver Jordan Addison in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft has heated up over the past week. Quarterback Kenny Pickett’s has made numerous comments about the possibility, endorsing his former teammate at Pitt.
But that’s not the direction NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah projected the Steelers to go in the first round of the draft.
In his first 2023 NFL Mock Draft, Jeremiah predicted the Steelers to select Florida interior offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence.
“The Steelers must address the interior of the offensive line this offseason, and Torrence is a big, powerful man,” the NFL draft expert wrote. “Pittsburgh could probably slide back and still get him in the 20s.”
Torrence is an unusual prospect in a couple different ways. He is widely regarded as the top interior lineman available in a draft that NFL writer Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus called “one of the weaker interior offensive linemen classes in recent memory.”
That should make Torrence all that more valuable as a prospect.
His 6-foot-5 and 347-pound frame also make him unique. He’s a mammoth of a man and yet NFL draft evaluators are impressed with his balance and footwork.
Torrence’s Draft Projection Heading Into the Offseason
Most analysts predict the Steelers to target tackle if offensive line is their pick at No. 17 in the first round. However, Jeremiah had three offensive tackles selected in his mock draft in the first half of the first round.
So instead of reaching for the next-best tackle, Jeremiah made Torrence his choice for Pittsburgh.
The draft boards from ESPN, Bleacher Report and PFF don’t have Torrence ranked as a Top 17 player in the class. But he’s hardly just a consolation prize for the Steelers should they take him at No. 17.
“Torrence is the top true guard prospect in the class,” Renner wrote. “At 6-foot-5 and 347 pounds, he’s a big boy to try and overpower.
“He started for three seasons at Louisiana before transferring to Florida, where he earned an 88.0 overall grade last fall.”
ESPN and Bleacher Report also rated Torrence as the clear-cut top guard in the 2023 class. The ESPN draft rankings placed Torrence at No. 28 overall, and the second-best guard, Ohio State’s Luke Wypler, at No. 66.
Tha, along with his size make, him a fascinating prospect.
“To say you won’t find too many other top guard prospects tipping the scales in that range is an understatement,” Renner wrote. “There hasn’t been a single other 340-plus-pound guard taken in the first two rounds of the draft since PFF started grading in 2006. It’s incredible how balanced he is for a man that size.”
Draft History to Repeat Itself for Steelers?
Drafting Torrence could be a little reminiscent of the last time the Steelers selected an offensive lineman in the first round. That was guard David DeCastro in 2012.
The 2012 NFL Draft saw only three offensive linemen, including two guards, taken in the first round. Furthermore, no offensive linemen came off the board in 2012 until the No. 23 pick.
The Steelers landed DeCastro at No. 24. Despite the lack of strong linemen prospects in that draft overall, DeCastro was more than a solid selection.
DeCastro didn’t start as a rookie and slowly developed once becoming a starter. But from 2015-20, he was regarded as one of the top linemen in the NFL. During that stretch, he earned six Pro Bowl appearances and made two All-Pro teams.
No one would have blinked if the Steelers had drafted a tackle instead of DeCastro in 2012. Actually, the Steelers did select a tackle in the second round that year.
But the organization went with the best offensive lineman available, and even though that was a guard, the entire offensive line benefited from the pick.
Should multiple tackles be drafted in the first 16 picks, the Steelers could repeat that history by selecting Torrence. Picking the Florida guard would especially be helpful if Pittsburgh could follow Jeremiah’s suggestion — trade back in the first round, acquire more selections, and still land Torrence.