The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering uncharted territory. Here’s where they would be selecting in the 2023 NFL Draft if the season ended right now.
When the season has shaped up the way it has so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I don’t fault any fan who wants to start looking ahead to the future. After all, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about at this present point in time.
According to Team Rankings, the Steelers currently rank 32nd in points per game (15.0), 32nd in passing yards per attempt (6.0), and 32nd in yards per play (4.7). This is in addition to a plethora of underwhelming stats on both sides of the football, like being 23rd in sacks per game (1.9) and 29th in passing yards allowed per attempt (7.5).
While there’s reason to believe that some of these stats could improve after Pittsburgh’s Week 9 bye, this team probably isn’t going to be very competitive for the remainder of the 2022 season. Even if they go 7-2 the rest of the way, the Steelers aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs (nor are they likely to accomplish such a feat).
Because of this, it’s completely understandable to start looking ahead to a brighter future. The one positive we can take away from this otherwise dreadful season is that the Steelers could have more high draft capital than they’ve had in years. So where would they be picking in the 2023 NFL Draft if the season ended today?
Steelers would own the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
Though there’s still just over half a season left to be played, Tankathon has updated its projected draft order. If Pittsburgh’s season ended today, they would own the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Why is this significant? For a team that has picked in the mid-20s, on average, for the better part of a decade, the Steelers have missed out on opportunities to land elite players early in the NFL Draft. This has apparently caught up to them, as they have a talent deficiency on the roster. Outside of striking gold on T.J. Watt with the 30th pick in 2017 and trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers haven’t taken an All-Pro player since David DeCastro in 2012 (Cameron Heyward the year before that).
If the Steelers perform similarly the rest of the way and finish with the fourth overall pick, they could potentially take a generational talent like Alabama EDGE Will Anderson or Georgia DL Jalen Carter. Perhaps the best thing they could do would be to trade back for an excellent package — multiplying their draft capital in the process.
Steelers would have three picks in the top 45
Assuming things stayed the same, the Steelers would also have three picks to work with inside the top 45. In addition to their first-round pick (which projects to be high), Pittsburgh would also own two high picks in the second round (their original pick and the one they acquired from the Bears via the Chase Claypool trade).
These early second-round picks could be used to bolster the trenches or perhaps take a starting boundary cornerback. Neither the offensive line, defensive line, nor cornerback position has been addressed in the first or second round of the NFL Draft since 2015. For the OL, it has been much longer.
Of course, if Omar Khan and Andy Weidl feel it necessary, they could package these picks to move back into the first round or trade back to stockpile even more draft capital.
Even if this season goes down the tubes for the Pittsburgh Steelers and they continue to trend in the wrong direction, at least there will be something to look forward to after all of this. Don’t underestimate the power a great draft class can have on turning a franchise around. The 2023 NFL Draft class could end up proving to be one of the best we’ve seen by the Steelers in years considering the amount of elite draft capital they will have.