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2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Hits Home Run in 2023 NFL Draft



Steelers Draft

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers draft has concluded the 2023 NFL Draft, and now their rookies will show up for rookie minicamp in a number of days before the offseason program starts to ramp up considerably over the next month. However, coming out of it, just how good does the draft class look at this time?

Well, for what it’s worth, just based on value alone, it’s hard to not give this an A+ overall. I mean, seriously, the team got value at just about every spot in the class. Broderick Jones was perfect value and the Steelers draft haul was only altered slightly when they gave up the 120th overall pick. They had four picks where the guys were not expected to be there Joey Porter Jr., Darnell Washington, Nick Herbig, and Cory Trice. Trice and Washington are just absurd value, while Porter Jr. is a first-round talent. Lastly, Keeanu Benton might be the one guy you can round up as a question mark for value, but he makes up for it when you turn on the tape. And I generally think around 50th overall is where he should have gone, so this seems like fair value.

Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.

Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. (9) celebrates after stopping Indiana during second quarter action. No. 4/6 Nittany Lions shutout the Hoosiers, 24-0 on Saturday night October 2, 2021at Beaver Stadium in the annual Penn State Stripe Out game.
Photo by Mark Selders

Two things became clear to me once we saw the entire draft in a big-picture format. They wanted to get more physical and play bully ball across the field and they wanted talented athletes. For one, the physicality aspect of everything is just evident. Whenever you draft a trench-focused draft with Washington in combination with those guys, the physicality pops off. However, more than that, the athleticism these guys have. I mean, there’s not a bad athlete in the entire class. The Steelers went out and got big, athletic players that are unique players. The word ‘unique’ can scare many teams away from guys like Porter Jr., Herbig, or Washington, but it’s always been a mantra of Mike Tomlin to embrace those.

The last thing about this class that sticks out is how well the Steelers knew the board, other team’s needs, and how to be selectively aggressive. In Omar Khan‘s first NFL Draft, it certainly felt like he had been doing this his entire life already. The trade-up to get Jones was pristine. Then, to trade back from 80th overall, acquire two picks, and turn that into Washington and Herbig is a surplus of value from that move. With Washington on the board as well, the Steelers did a good job of adapting to how the board fell.

Steelers Draft Nick Herbig

Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Nick Herbig (19) celebrates during an NCAA college football game against the Washington State Cougars, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 in Madison, Wis. The Cougars won 17-14. (Photo by David Stluka/Wisconsin Athletic Communications)

So, this class is a talent and value-laden class that pops out to the eye right off the page. It’s hard to not be enthused with this if you are in the Steelers organization. There are five players in the class, their first five picks, that should have immediate impacts here. The Steelers smartly continued to invest in Najee Harris and Kenny Pickett, their last two first round picks with Jones and Washington. They added two youthful, long cornerbacks that give Pittsburgh a new identity in the secondary. And on top of that, they got a defensive lineman with a fantastic frame and tons of upside with his combination of traits.

In other words, you can’t necessarily predict how the class will turn out right now, but I cannot help but be impressed by the Steelers’ draft haul and how they did it to get there. That means, they deserve a well-earned high grade as a result of that.

Grade: A

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