Teams looking for a quarterback were trying to get back into the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to land one of the top two remaining players at that position, but were rebuffed by the teams holding the final picks on Thursday night. Now, they’re lighting up the Steelers switchboards at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
With quarterbacks Will Levis and Hendon Hooker both falling out of the first round, along with a short list of other notables like Joey Porter Jr., Brian Branch and Keion White, there are a number of prospects that teams are looking to get their hands on when the second day of the draft starts Friday evening.
The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the key, with the No. 32 overall pick acquired in the Chase Claypool trade sitting as the first pick of the second round.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan predicted that they would be busy in fielding calls for that pick, and that prediction has already come true. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported early on Friday that multiple teams have called, specifically regarding Levis, the former Penn State and Kentucky quarterback that some considered a top five pick and remains available.
“We acknowledge we’re not quarterback shopping and that position might be one that attracts quarterback shoppers,” Tomlin said before the draft. “So, it’s exciting to see what might transpire with some of those phone calls and the value we may be able to get. It’s an exciting position for us to be in.”
The Steelers traded up in the first round, sending their fourth-round pick to the New England Patriots to jump ahead of the New York Jets and secure Georgia tackle Broderick Jones.
The team had already traded its fifth-round pick for cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in 2021 and its sixth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for outside linebacker Malik Reed in 2022.
That means that currently, the Steelers do not have a pick between their third-round selection at No. 80 and their first of two seventh-round picks at No. 241. A trade down from No. 32 would help the team recoup a pick to bridge that gap and continue to be able to re-stock the club’s depth for the 2023 season.