Steelers Connected to ‘Fastest Riser’ WR at No. 17 Overall

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been linked to a wide receiver at No. 17 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers select a wide receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, the assumption is that it will be Pitt wideout Jordan Addison. He’s one of the best receivers in the 2023 draft class and has a lot of previous experience working with Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

But Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey connected the Steelers to a different wide receiver at No. 17 overall in the 2023 draft.

“The Steelers could be bold with the No. 17 pick and take a wide receiver, especially if the offensive tackle big board does not fall their way,” wrote Tansey.

“Boston College’s Zay Flowers is one of the fastest risers in the draft class.

“Flowers is starting to receive more first-round attention, as evidenced by his Wednesday visit with the New England Patriots, which was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.”

Flowers recorded 200 receptions for 3,056 yards and 29 touchdowns in four seasons at Boston College. During his senior season, he posted career-highs of 78 catches, 1,077 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

Draft Stock for WR Zay Flowers on the Rise?

Draft evaluators from Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and Athlon have identified Flowers as a Day 2 selection rather than a first-round draft choice.

But Tansey predicted the Boston College receiver to be rising on draft boards. That appears to be the case, as Flowers is now ranked a top 30 overall player on the big boards from ESPN and Pro Football Focus.

“Flowers is the best pure separator in the draft class,” said Flowers’ draft evaluation at PFF. “Defensive backs won’t be able to stick with him across on his route breaks unless they’re holding him. He racked up 1,077 yards and 12 scores this past season.

On The Athletic big board, Flowers is ranked the No. 39 overall player, which would make him an early second-round choice in the 2023 draft.

Flowers certainly helped his draft stock at the NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. He was one of only 10 receivers at the combine to finish the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds or less.

How Flowers Fits With the Steelers

The Steelers have added pass catchers with one of their first two picks in each of the last four drafts. But they traded away 2020 second-round choice Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears at the NFL trade deadline in November, and one of those other three selections was tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Pittsburgh could use a weapon at receiver to compliment Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, who were Day 2 selections for the Steelers in the 2019 and 2022 drafts, respectively.

Tansey questioned whether Flowers is the most ideal wideout to play alongside Johnson and Pickens. He wrote that Flowers’ “smaller, play-making style” could be too similar to Johnson and Pickens.

But Tansey also argued he could be the Steelers’ best option if they choose a receiver at No. 17 overall.

“He is a dynamic, big-play threat who will help any NFL offense, and that is why the Steelers should at least be intrigued by his potential,” wrote Tansey.

“A Flowers-Johnson-Pickens trio would wreak all sorts of havoc across the AFC North, and it could be the pick that allows the Steelers offense to emerge as the best in the division.”

Johnson recorded 107 receptions for 1,161 yards with 8 touchdowns in 2021. During 2022, Pickens eclipsed the 800-yard mark as a rookie.

Adding Flowers would make the Steelers weapons even harder to cover, giving Pickett a better chance to succeed.

In addition to Flowers, Tansey also connected the Steelers to offensive tackles Broderick Jones and Darnell Wright at No. 17 overall.

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