Steelers Projected to Land ‘Highest Ceiling’ Offensive Tackle of 2023 Draft Class

Paris Johnson Jr. Ohio State

Michael Reaves/Getty Images Paris Johnson Jr. of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats on November 5, 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers come into Week 11 as the 24th-ranked offensive line in the NFL, as per Pro Football Focus (PFF).

That helps explain why Mike Renner and Trevor Sikkema of PFF project the Steelers to draft Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) at No. 10 overall in the 2023 draft, making him the second offensive tackle off the board in the Renner/Sikkema mock, four spots after Peter Skoronski (Northwestern).

As noted by Sikkema, Johnson — 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds — has produced an 80.6 PFF grade thus far in 2022 and has allowed zero quarterback sacks in 581 snaps. He started all 13 games at right guard for the top offense in the FBS in 2021, but is playing left tackle for the Buckeyes this season.

Here’s what one draft analyst has to say about the Ohio State junior, who many evaluators believe has the “highest ceiling” of any tackle in this draft class.

“Paris Johnson Jr. is an explosive athlete with easy movement skills. He has exceptional range as a run blocker and can be trusted to execute longer pulls. He pairs top-end mobility with an impressive frame that features an athletic build with long limbs. Johnson has plenty of high-level flashes where his blend of size, power, and athleticism leads to dominant reps,” writes Joe Marino of The Draft Network. “Johnson is a respected leader who excels in the classroom (and) has a passion for helping veterans and disadvantaged children.”

Evaluators will get their next look at Johnson on the afternoon of Nov. 19, when the undefeated Buckeyes (10-0) play at Maryland (6-4).

The Steelers Haven’t Used a 1st-Round Pick at OT Since 1996

What are the chances that Pittsburgh uses its 1st-round pick on an offensive tackle? History says ‘no.’ The Steelers haven’t used a 1st-rounder at the position since 1996, and Jamain Stephens (North Carolina A&T) was a huge bust. But with Omar Khan/Andy Weidl now leading the talent evaluation the approach could be much different.

And while second-year left tackle Dan Moore Jr. has had a mostly underwhelming season, he is coming off arguably the best game of his career, producing an 89.6 overall PFF grade against the New Orleans Saints.

Moreover, both Ben Roethlisberger and former Steelers offensive guard Ramon Foster have predicted long-term success for Moore in Pittsburgh, with the latter insisting that Moore has Hall of Fame potential.

On the right side, the Steelers have former 3rd-round pick Chuks Okorafor under contract through 2024.

Browns Try out Former Steelers Safety Antoine Brooks Jr.

It’s been an eventful week for former Steelers 6th-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr. On Wednesday June 16 he was drafted by the Seattle Sea Dragons in the 2nd-round of the defensive backs portion of the XFL Draft. Then on Friday the 24-year-old University of Maryland product had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns, this according to the NFL’s daily personnel notice.

Brooks — 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds — appeared in four games for the Steelers as a rookie after the organization drafted him No. 198 overall in 2020. But he failed to make the team in his second season, which led him to sign to the practice squad of the Los Angeles Rams in Sept. 2021. He went on to appear in eight games for Los Angeles in the team’s Super Bowl season, and subsequently re-upped with the Rams on a one-year reserve/futures contract in Feb. 2022. But he was waived by the Rams in May 2022, making him available to the Browns, not to mention the Sea Dragons, the latter of whom are coached by former Steelers assistant Jim Haslett, who was defensive coordinator under Bill Cowher from 1997-99.

The Steelers Worked out a Left-Footed Punter

Meanwhile, the Steelers had left-footed punter Brock Miller in for a tryout late this week, as noted by Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network.

It’s the second time this season that that the Steelers have worked out Miller, 31, who played his college football for the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. The first time came the week before the Steelers faced the Bengals in the 2022 season opener.

Recall that the Bengals employ a left-footed punter in Kevin Huber; no doubt Miller was brought in — again — to help Pittsburgh’s punt returners get accustomed to catching punts from a lefty.

Miller has never appeared in an NFL game, though he did spend time with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He did play for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL earlier this year, punting 31 times for 46.3 yards per kick, with 10 punts inside the 20.

He finished his college career at Southern Utah with a school record 42.6 yards per punt average.