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2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Digest: New DT Target Mocked, Devon Witherspoon Top CB



Steelers Draft Lukas Van Ness

The Steelers draft goes into a new direction in a mock draft, and Devon Witherspoon gets some love from a big name outlet.

🏈: In Chad Reuter’s first three-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Steelers do go on the interior of their defensive line, but it is not Bryan Bresee who ends up coming to Pittsburgh. Instead, it is Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness who Pittsburgh chooses to select. Here is Reuter’s explanation.

Pittsburgh often ends up with a bargain landing in its lap in Round 1, and Van Ness certainly qualifies here,” Reuter wrote. “The Iowa defender has great potential at the five-technique for the Steelers or even standing up on the edge at times. The leverage he gets on offensive linemen is quite impressive, and he can shed and chase plays from the back side.”

Meanwhile, the Steelers then follow it up by taking Baylor NT Siaki Ika and Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison. A complete Steelers draft focused on the trenches? It is not impossible but that would leave cornerback and linebacker unaddressed through the first two rounds. The Steelers follow it up with running back Roschon Johnson in the third round. He could be a do-it-all back and is a good player, but I’m not sure I see the Steelers looking to address running back.

🏈: Ohio State WR Coach and Offensive Coordinator Brian Hartline believes that Jaxon Smith-Njigba should be the unquestioned top receiver in the class over Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston, and others. Hartline went as far as to say scouts that do not have Smith-Njigba as the top receiver are ‘bad at their jobs’. Smith-Njigba is a possible first-round pick, but could be a fascinating pick for the Steelers at 32.

🏈: NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith offered the opinion that it is time to get rid of the NFL Combine and solely rely on pro days for both medical information and testing information. In Smith’s opinion, the NFL Combine is intrusive and is built to decrease players’ draft value from the outset. As such, he calls for the complete dismantling of the idea in the process.

I think the first thing you do is not assume you need a combine. … What would you want to have for our sons? Get rid of the combine. Have pro days,” Smith said.

It is unlikely at this point that it has much plausibility. However, the fact that Smith is even making the argument means that it could be something that the NFLPA will fight for in the future. It is the first time that this type of rhetoric has been used, but because of that, it is noteworthy.

🏈: Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports took a look at the Chiefs’ roster and tried to see how teams could potentially parse out parts of their teambuilding and use it. One of the interesting ones that pertained to the Steelers was the idea of a massive stonewall tackle like Orlando Brown. Trapasso listed Dawand Jones and Darnell Wright, two players who Pittsburgh saw in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, as players that could flash into that bucket. So, if you are trying to take away some lessons from the Super Bowl, that might not be a bad place to start.

🏈: PFF did compile their list of the Top 100 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, and they had one interesting note at the cornerback position. Devon Witherspoon was listed as a Top 10 player at 6th overall on their list. That made him the top cornerback, but only by four spots as Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez was there shortly after. Just like every other outlet, PFF seems to agree that this cornerback class is loaded, but they have plenty of twists and turns with no Cam Smith in the Top 30.