PITTSBURGH — The Steelers came away with Broderick Jones, Keeanu Benton, Joey Porter Jr., and Darnell Washington in the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, but now they have three picks on the last day. So, with the bevy of talent that is still there on the board, who are some of the standout players?
Utah CB Clark Phillips
I single out Clark Phillips here because the fit with the Steelers makes too much sense. He would have been an excellent pick at 93, but is still on the board to start day three. Will he fall all the way to 132? My guess is doubtful, but if you are looking for the reincarnation of Mike Hilton, Phillips is that guy. He is feisty, a ballhawk, and would be Pittsburgh’s starting slot cornerback from day one. I think he’s the best player left on the board.
The Other CBs
So, speaking of cornerbacks, there is basically a bevy of others. That includes Georgia’s Kelee Ringo, South Carolina’s Derius Rush, TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Purdue’s Cory Trice, Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly, and so many more. This class is absurdly deep and the Steelers could easily double down to get quality players in this range if they want to do that. I think it would have to be a specific skillset, but man, the players are here to be intrigued by overall.
Wisconsin ILB Nick Herbig and Cincinnati ILB Ivan Pace
The run on inside linebackers at the end of day three was swift and strong. Dorian Williams and others came off the board, but Nick Herbig, brother of Steelers guard Nate Herbig, is still on the board. While he played edge at Wisconsin, he will transition full-time to the off-ball role. Meanwhile, Ivan Pace is just a Steelers guy. He is a physical tone-setter that is maybe too small to play long-term as a starter, but the mentality is enthralling. Auburn’s Owen Pappoe and Alabama’s Henry To’oto’o are also a good bet to end up somewhere here.
A lot of Wide Receivers
This wide receiver class is not one that gets me particularly excited, and as a result, there are a lot of options. However, by the time No. 132 rolls around, a lot of those players contend for best player available. I’m talking about smooth route runners such as Tyler Scott and Charlie Jones. You have athletic guys like Bryce Ford-Wheaton, pure slot options like Trey Palmer and Parker Washington. Then, you have the bigger bodies like Xavier Hutchinson, A.T. Perry, and Andrei Iosivas that jump out to me as interesting possibilities as well.
Ohio State OT Dawand Jones
Well, Dawand Jones was a talked-about name for the Steelers in the second round, but yet, here he is heading into day three. I’m not sure doubling down is a great idea at tackle, but it seems like Jones has some concerns that have popped up about him throughout the process. Maybe that took him off enough team’s boards for him to experience this fall, but at this point, Jones is too good to not at least take a flyer on. Blake Freeland and Jaelyn Duncan are also still on the board at tackle and a handful of interior guys remain, as well.
Plenty of EDGE Candidates
You know, the more you look at the edge guys still on the board, the more you like the options. Sure, Ade Adebawore is still on the board and is a guy who is stuck between edge and interior defensive lineman. But even then, Isaiah McGuire, Yasir Abdullah, Andre Carter II, Villiami Fehoko and others remain on this board. You can argue right now that this is the Steelers’ biggest remaining need. So, I would not be surprised to see one of those names above end up as a Steeler.
Texas A&M S Antonio Johnson
You heard it all draft cycle and rightfully so, the safety class is bad. Even still, there is really little reason to me why Antonio Johnson fell this far. If he is there at No. 132, you’ll have a hard time passing up on him. He is a second-round talent that has all the makings of a dynamite-strong safety in the NFL. You can even compare him in a lot of ways to Keanu Neal. This is a good, solid football player.
Last but not least, let’s give it up for some of the quarterbacks. Jake Haener and Jaren Hall remain atop the quarterback board for me as guys who exhibit traits as long-term backups and Clayton Tune isn’t far behind. I’m not sure they’re truly in the best player available scenario, but the class has enough gravitas to where these guys can stick it out in the NFL for a number of years. Pittsburgh has only two quarterbacks and Mitch Trubisky will gone after this year, so they could go-fish for one.