4 disastrous picks Steelers must avoid at pick 17 in the 2023 NFL Draft

Steelers, Brian Branch
Steelers, Brian Branch / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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As Pittsburgh's brass continues to hit the scouting trail, we are constantly keeping tabs on the players the Steelers could potentially target in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Mike Tomlin's team owns the 17th overall selection this year, and targeting the right players and positions is essential.

We witnessed Kevin Colbert swing and miss far too often in the first round during his final stretch with the Steelers. The thing that all of these misses had in common was that they chose to reach for a position of need.

This year, under the direction of GM Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl, things must be different. However, I am still a bit fearful that Pittsburgh could mess this up. Here are four potentially disastrous picks they must avoid with the 17th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Steelers must avoid Brian Branch in the first round

Through the years, my philosophy has changed when it comes to addressing the safety position. Unless you are a blue-chip prospect at a Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James level, I don't believe teams should use elite draft capital to address a position that the NFL doesn't view as very important.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson, for example, just signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Detroit Lions after earning 6 interceptions in 12 games. Alabama safety, Brian Branch, is a good player but is he going to be better than a handful of players who became available and swapped teams in free agency this year?

While Branch does have great tape and some position flexibility to cover the slot, he weighed in at just 190 pounds at the combine and ran a concerning 4.58 40-yard dash. Branch isn't the elite prospect some want to make him out to be, and the Steelers would be much wiser to save their premium draft capital on a more important position.

With already having the best in the game in Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end, Pittsburgh doesn't need to fork up their most valuable resource this offseason for another safety. They already retained Damontae Kazee, and I think they can get Terrell Edmunds back for a very cheap deal -- similar to what he signed just before the draft last year. This makes much more sense.