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2023 NFL Draft

Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez to Steelers in Todd McShay’s Mock Draft

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NFL Combine Christian Gonzalez Steelers draft

The Steelers draft scenarios are running wild all over the place, and that remains true as ESPN’s Todd McShay dropped his first mock draft after the Super Bowl in an attempt to predict as many picks as he could.

Pittsburgh does not make any flashy moves in the mock draft, and instead decides to stay put at 17 where they select Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. The Steelers draft team does not go out to the west coast very often to select their top picks, or really any picks at all, but Gonzalez has a lot of interesting traits that could draw Pittsburgh to him.

“If the Steelers can’t retain¬†Cameron Sutton, then Gonzalez makes a lot of sense as a replacement,” McShay wrote. “He has 6-foot-2 size, good length, some serious wheels and high-end ball skills, as evidenced by four interceptions in 2022. And if Pittsburgh does re-sign Sutton or add another cornerback via free agency, Gonzalez has versatility to move around the secondary and line up over the slot. Alternatively, the Steelers could look at offensive line reinforcements, though the top three offensive tackles are off the board in this scenario.”

Those points are true and Gonzalez has the ball-hawking skills that the Steelers will crave. However, he does not have the physicality of someone like Joey Porter Jr. and Devon Witherspoon. An extremely athletic playmaker, Gonzalez will need a lot of seasoning on his game in order to completely become a plug-and-play guy as well. But he has the highest upside out of any cornerback in this class.

So, could this happen? Sure, but it does feel like there could be other more likely cornerbacks that the Steelers would target. Kelee Ringo, for example, went shortly after this, and it does feel like he could be likelier. But if the offensive line board is as bare as it was in this mock draft, Gonzalez has plenty of intriguing traits to jump on.