Omar Khan’s first offseason as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers is going swimmingly, at least from an outsider’s perspective. After an eventful free agency period that welcomed many starting-level players, the Steelers entered the 2023 NFL Draft with more areas of “wants” than “needs.”
Khan wheeled his way to an excellent rookie class and has gained outside praise for doing so. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. graded the draft classes of all 32 teams and gave the Steelers’ draft a “B+” for the final draft grade.
In the first round, the Steelers decided to trade a late-round pick to move up three spots and selected Broderick Jones out of Georgia with pick No. 14. The Steelers needed to trade up to have a chance at the elite offensive tackle.
“I’m a fan of what they did on the first two days of the draft. They traded a fourth-round pick to move up three spots in Round 1 to grab Broderick Jones, who will start at one of the tackle spots. He had an elite 2022 season,” wrote Kiper.
Jones will likely compete for Dan Moore’s job at left tackle but has the ability to play on either side of the line. The first-rounder allowed zero sacks on 446 pass-blocking attempts last season.
Despite having multiple teams inquire about trading for pick No. 32, the Steelers drafted fan-favorite Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State to kick off the second round. The Steelers did not expect Porter to fall out of the first round but could not pass up the opportunity of adding a player of such skill in round two.
“Porter is 6-foot-2 with long arms, and he can flip his hips in coverage. This is a great spot for him, being able to be mentored by Patrick Peterson,” wrote Kiper.
With the team’s second pick of round two, the Steelers selected the big nose tackle out of Wisconsin Keeanu Benton. The Steelers have struggled against the run in the previous few seasons so Benton should step in as an immediate help in the run game. Kiper did not grade Benton as highly as the Steelers did.
“Benton’s traits didn’t match his college production, but if he keeps developing some pass-rush moves, he could be a three-down player. He was a slight reach on my board,” wrote Kiper.
The Steelers drafted Georgia’s mammoth tight end Darnell Washington with the team’s third-round selection. The Steelers passed on the opportunity to add a high-end inside linebacker prospect at pick No. 80 in order to secure an extra pick on day three as the Steelers traded down to No. 93.
“Washington dropped because of some medical concerns, but he’ll step into the NFL as one of the league’s best blocking tight ends; and if he can up his game as a pass-catcher, he could be a steal,” wrote Kiper.
The Steelers added three players in the final four rounds. Linebacker Nick Herbig, brother of newly-signed guard Nate Herbig, was the team’s fourth-round selection. Herbig was Kiper’s seventh-ranked inside linebacker prospect.
In the seventh round, the Steelers added cornerback Cory Trice and offensive lineman Spencer Anderson. Trice was mocked as early as a third-round prospect throughout the offseason and Anderson has the versatility to play at any position along the offensive line.
“The light Day 3 keeps this class under an A — teams that have more picks obviously have greater chances to find those diamonds in the rough — but there are some instant-impact players here,” wrote Kiper.
The Steelers’ first draft under Khan turned out to be a bit top-heavy but should have quality players throughout. All seven of the draftees could and should find their way onto the team’s final 53-man roster come Week 1.