With the 2023 NFL Draft only days away, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a comfortable yet peculiar position.
The Steelers added twelve players since the start of free agency and enter the draft with “no glaring needs” but given the draft position, the team may have to settle for the best player available with pick No. 17.
Peter King of Pro Football Talk predicted that the Steelers will pick the best remaining player and possibly the best wide receiver with pick No. 17 by selecting Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. This comes after the Steelers acquired Allen Robinson via trade last week.
Even after the Robinson trade, the Steelers’ need for a speedy wide receiver still remains. The team could still hold out hope on 2022 fourth-round pick Calvin Austin to fill that role.
“This is about where the receivers will start getting picked, and I’d be surprised if the Steelers weren’t seriously considering one to pair long-term with George Pickens,” wrote King.
This draft selection would give Pittsburgh a quartet of dangerous wide receivers in Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Robinson and Smith-Njigba.
Smith-Njigba missed a portion of the 2022 season but dominated college football in 2021, posting 1,606 yards on 95 receptions to go along with nine touchdowns.
King has Smith-Njigba as the first of four total wide receivers taken in the first round. This places Smith-Njigba infront of Addison, Flowers, and Josh Downs as the first round receivers.
Other options at pick No. 17 in King’s mock include cornerbacks Deonte Banks (Maryland) and Joey Porter (Penn State), offensive tackle Darnell Wright (Tennessee), and wide receivers Jordan Addison (USC) and Zay Flowers (Boston College).
“Corner’s another position the Steelers could favor here, and watch for Maryland’s Deonte Banks if that’s the call,” wrote King.
Even though offensive tackle and cornerback are the consensus top needs for the Steelers, a receiver of Smith-Njigba’s caliber would be hard to pass on at pick No. 17.