The Steelers focused on their immediate needs in this first edition of the 2023 mock draft series as the regular season starts.
The 2023 NFL Draft is still almost half a year away with lots of football to be played in between that time. The Steelers will have scouts going around the country to get closer looks at some of these prospects that project to be NFL options when the event rolls around.
There are many different needs that Pittsburgh currently has that could always sway as the season progresses.
Steelers biggest needs right now as the regular season begins
OT, LB, S, IOL, CB, RB, QB
The positions listed above seem to be the biggest needs for the black and gold at this current juncture. That could always change with how certain positions play and when free agency rolls around. This mock draft is far in advance and will focus on the current holes that this club will seemingly have to fill from now and into the offseason.
The offensive line is still going to be the number one concern that will be focused on when the draft rolls around unless this group gets their affairs in order. The secondary and middle linebacker positions could also be looking for some starting help around this time of year as well. Things will change as players could always re-sign or free agency could always shake things up as well.
Round 1: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Trenton Simpson is the top choice for the Steelers as they spend another first round pick on a linebacker. The inside position for this defense is a weak spot and the team could go in a bunch of different directions with this pick.
The secondary and offensive line could be other needs that need to be addressed immediately before a linebacker is thought about. This position needs an upgrade and there are some good players that could be inserted into the middle for Pittsburgh through this draft.
Noah Sewell is another linebacker that could get interest from the black and gold as the draft process plays out. Simpson will battle for the top prospect at the position until the draft starts to send picks into the league. He is a fast guy that is explosive at the point of attack. He needs to finish plays in coverage and cause more turnovers this season to lock himself in as the top linebacker in this class. He is not a liability in coverage, but he needs to be able to cause more disruption at times.
Round 2: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The offensive line will be watched closely as this year plays out, and things did not look good during the preseason. The Steelers will likely need to address the trenches again in free agency and possibly the draft as well. They get a nice tackle prospect in the second round with Broderick Jones. He did not get a ton of playing time during his collegiate career thus far, but he finally started getting starts for the Bulldogs late last season.
He played the final four games for Georgia and started on the left side, where he held his own. This season will be big for him to prove to NFL teams that he can be a quality left tackle at the next level as he would be coming out as an underclassman. The Steelers would need to help develop him further, and he could always slide to guard if he cannot pan out at tackle.
Round 3: Layden Robinson, OG, Texas A&M
Layden Robinson comes to Pittsburgh after the team double dips into the front group in the first three rounds. The Steelers seem like they might be starting to notice that you will not have a good offensive line if you do not properly invest in it. That is a quick lesson to learn, and the club might need to keep adding to the group and the depth behind the starters.
Jones was their second-round pick to come in and compete for a starting job at either tackle spot. Robinson will come in and challenge Kevin Dotson and James Daniels for the starting guard positions. He can also be a significant upgrade over Kendrick Green as the swing guard if he needs to fill a depth spot for the time being.
Round 4: Rashad Torrence II, S, Florida
Rashad Torrence II fell the entire way to the fourth round for the black and gold to select. Safety will be another focus for this team if Terrell Edmunds finally departs the club after failing to do so this past offseason. The replacement of Torrence could potentially be an upgrade as the player is able to make more plays on the ball.
The secondary is in question right now as there are many unproven players, especially at cornerback. This safety would be able to come in and go for the starting strong safety spot on day one. Thus far, the Steelers have done a good job at filling their major needs with starting caliber talent in this draft.
Round 7: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh
Different trades landed Pittsburgh waiting until the seventh round to finally pick again. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Ahkello Witherspoon last year. They also just swapped their sixth-round pick with the Denver Broncos for their seventh-round pick and Malik Reed. The running back position has been neglected of depth and the Steelers still must wait until the seventh round to add some talent to the group.
They bring in a local product in Israel Abanikanda out of Pittsburgh and look to add some spark to their depth. Najee Harris will be getting a lot of the snaps this year and that will shorten his career if he keeps getting the number of carries that go his way. Jaylen Warren could alter the thought process on this depth if he can continue what he showed during training camp.
Round 7: Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh
This draft ends with the black and gold selecting another Pittsburgh quarterback in back-to-back years. Kenny Pickett was the guy last time and now Kedon Slovis could hear his name called to stick in the city that he will play in for his final collegiate campaign. He is not going to be Pickett, but he could be a nice depth option at the position that the Steelers will need to keep their eye on.
The future at the quarterback spot could be in flux yet again after the 2022 season concludes. Mitch Trubisky could be wanting out if Pickett takes over as the starter, and Mason Rudolph will be gone when he hits free agency. Even if Trubisky sticks around for his last year under contract, this franchise needs to add some players to secure some roster spots at the position for next year and into the future.
The Steelers were able to add some starting caliber prospects in this mock draft. There is a lot of time between now and the event, but it is always interesting to see the possibilities of the future.