The Pittsburgh Steelers hold four draft picks on the first two days of the 2023 NFL Draft, including three in the top 50 selections. During his annual pre-NFL Combine press conference, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah complimented the Steelers for being “set up well” to possibly add four new starters with those high selections.
But Football Outsiders analyst Robert Weintraub proposed a different path as opposed to making those four selections. He argued the Steelers should package two of their top three choices together in a trade to move up in the first round.
“Standing pat with three picks in the top 49 is the safe route,” Weintraub wrote in an article that appears on ESPN.com. “But that’s the rub. Because Mike Tomlin yet again steered a flawed team to a winning record (9-8), Pittsburgh picks 17th in the first round and 49th in the second — not exactly slam-dunk draft slots.”
Weintraub didn’t have a specific player in mind for the Steelers to trade up for, but suggested a couple different position groups that the team could target with an earlier selection in the first round.
Steelers Trading Up in First Round to Pick an Offensive Lineman?
The first possibility Weintraub urged the Steelers to consider was drafting an offensive linemen after making a trade in the first round.
The Football Outsiders analyst argued that the Steelers wouldn’t have to move up far from No. 17 to land one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the 2023 class.
“This season there are several good, but not necessarily automatic, prospects upfront,” Weintraub wrote. “That could be a blessing, however, as the Steelers won’t have to move up far to get the likes of Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State or Broderick Jones of Georgia.
“The 49th pick would suffice to leap in front of the New York Jets at 13 for their preferred choice.”
The draft experts from ESPN and The Athletic have Johnson ranked as a top 15 player and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2023 class. Pro Football Focus has Johnson rated as the top offensive tackle available.
If Johnson comes off the board before No. 13, Jones would be an excellent consolation prize. PFF claimed that if he had waited to enter the draft next year, Jones could have been a top 5 pick.
The question, though, is whether the Steelers will feel the need to trade up for Jones. ESPN, The Athletic and PFF all have him rated as the No. 18 overall player or lower in the class.
Steelers Trading Up To Draft a Cornerback?
Another option Weintraub presented was the Steelers moving up the draft board for a cornerback.
Jeremiah argued that the Steelers should “run the card up” for any of the draft’s top three cornerbacks if they are available at No. 17. The NFL Network analyst, though, doubted whether any of those top cornerbacks — Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez or Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon — will still be on the board.
If a trade is a possibility, though, the Steelers could move up for any three of those corners. Weintraub also proposed Pittsburgh trading up for Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson.
As long as it’s a “can’t-miss talent,” the Football Outsiders analyst argued the Steelers should be interested in pulling off a trade up the draft board this year.
“So long as Tomlin is around, the chance at truly elite, can’t-miss talent will be rare,” Weintraub wrote. “The Steelers should use this opportunity to move up and grab a top prospect.”