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2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Digest: Pittsburgh Mocked BIg LB, NFL Combine Invites



Steelers draft Drew Sanders

The Steelers draft brass finds out who will be at the NFL Combine and a new name ends up with in Pittsburgh in an intriguing mock draft

🏈: The NFL revealed all 319 names who will be at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in March. For the Steelers draft plans, all of the big names that fans know are going to be there. That is where medical evaluations and of course, the testing will take place for these players.

Some local players are heading there. including Pitt’s Israel Abanikanda, SirVocea Dennis, Carter Warren, Brandon Hill, Calijah Kancey, and Haba Baldonado, Penn State’s Parker Washington, Mitchell Tinsley, P.J. Mustipher, Joey Porter Jr., Brenton Strange, Juice Scruggs and Ji’Ayir Brown, and West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Dante Stills. If you are a PSAC fan, Shepherd QB Tyson Bagent made the list, too.

🏈: PFF dove into an interesting exercise that detailed four mistakes that specific teams can not make. While the Steelers are not on this list, they do mention the Giants, Ravens, and Chargers as teams who can not force WR in round one. How could that affect the Steelers? It could allow a name such as Jaxon Smith-Njigba to fall to them at 32, and if that happens, the value might just be too tempting to pass up.

🏈: Josh Edwards of CBS Sports conducted a new mock draft, and he has the Steelers taking an interesting name. In the first round, Pittsburgh selects Arkansas LB Drew Sanders. That is the first LB pick outside of Trenton Simpson that I have seen thus far, and this is what Edwards had to say about it.

“Pittsburgh needs offensive tackle and cornerback help,” Edwards wrote.” Joey Porter Jr. makes a lot of sense considering team needs and his ties to the organization, but it also needs improved play at linebacker. A tandem of Drew Sanders and T.J. Watt gives Pittsburgh some flexibility to offer different looks pre-snap.”

Sanders is a guy who could stand up, but would almost certainly play inside, so I’m not sure where the T.J. Watt pairing comes from really. But at times, Sanders popped and at others, he left you scratching your head. Porter Jr. Kelee Ringo, Bryan Bresee, and Jordan Addison are on the ford. For a pick that feels like a reach, I am not sure about this one, even if LB is a huge need.

🏈: According to Ryan Fowler of the Draft Network, the Steelers draft brass met with ECU QB Holton Ahlers at the NFLPA Bowl. That is interesting, as the Steelers have met with a number of quarterbacks already with Dorian Thompson-Robinson on that list as well. Ahlers is a veteran starter who racked up over 3700 passing yards and 28 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions in his Senior season at East Carolina. Pittsburgh could be looking for a backup quarterback or at least a third-string guy, so Ahlers is someone to keep on the radar.

🏈: PFF did a compilation of players they view as the biggest risers from the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game. They view a couple of key Steelers targets as risers. Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton, Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz, Northwestern DT Ade Adebawore, and West Virginia DL Dante Stills stand out as a few key players on that list.

They don’t list any linebackers there, and I think that is a largely indictment on the class as a whole. But there is plenty of depth at other positions of need the Steelers have, but the linebacker spot is one that is a fascinating debate on how the Steelers will address it.

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