Bizarre mock draft has Steelers going off script with the 17th overall pick

Tommy Jaggi
Steelers, Jalin Hyatt
Steelers, Jalin Hyatt / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Following the 2023 NFL Combine, it seems like we have a pretty clear picture of which positions the Pittsburgh Steelers may try to target this April. After meeting with a grand total of 21 offensive linemen and 11 cornerbacks in Indianapolis, it seems like Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin are in the business of filling holes early in the draft this year.

This is typically reflected in mock drafts. NFL Mock Draft Database keeps a record of published mocks, and CB Joey Porter Jr. has been the most frequently-mocked player to Pittsburgh with the 17th overall pick. That selection has been closely followed by Georgia OT Broderick Jones.

Every once in a while, however, we see some mock drafts that go against the grain. Recently, Kent Platte of Pro Football Network made a very interesting selection for the Steelers. At pick 17, he has Pittsburgh going with Tennessee wide receiver, Jalin Hyatt. Here's what he had to say about the selection.

"It’s a bit silly that a player who hits 93rd-percentile speed can claim to be disappointed in his testing, but that’s where we ended up with Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt had boasted a 4.29 run in the lead-up to the Combine but ended up “only” running a 4.40. That’s plenty fast, and not a time anyone should worry about for a speed guy. Pittsburgh needs a deep threat for Kenny Pickett, and while 93% isn’t 100%, it’s enough to beat most players most of the time, which is all you need if your QB is any good."

Kent Platte

I'm certainly not going to criticize anybody's mock draft. It's still early in the pre-draft process, and crazier things have happened when teams are on the clock. But is taking a player like Jalin Hyatt really a possibility for the Steelers in the first round?

Would Steelers take an unexpected WR in round one?

Pittsburgh has been lacking a true deep threat since Martavis Bryant, and they just haven't been able to replace that player. For this reason, taking a player like Hyatt would make some sense. However, I'm not convinced that Tomlin and Khan would be willing to ignore some major positions of need to take a one-trick-pony WR in round one.

Hyatt certainly isn't the most well-rounded receiver in this class. He projects as a deep threat with build-up speed who really does one thing particularly well. This doesn't mean that he won't be valuable in the NFL, but historically, the Steelers have not valued this type of player in the first two rounds.

Additionally, some were disappointed with Hyatt at the NFL Combine, as the Tennessee receiver didn't flash the most natural hands. He also ran a 4.40 at just 176 pounds. While this is great speed, it was nowhere near the possible sub-4.3 speed many were hoping he had.

The biggest reason the Steelers are unlikely to take Hyatt with this pick, however, is that it would ignore some pressing needs. Pittsburgh could certainly use some major upgrades along the offensive line, and cornerback could be the worst position on their roster if they lose Cameron Sutton in free agency. Even if he returns, they need another competent CB.

This particular mock by Pro Football Network has Pittsburgh passing on players like OL Peter Skoronski, CB Devon Witherspoon, and CB Deonte Banks. I just can't see them doing that when nearly every NFL Draft analyst views these players as better prospects and they fill bigger positions of need for the Steelers.

Next. 3 reasons the Steelers should avoid taking a WR in the NFL Draft. dark

It is worth mentioning that Pittsburgh had a formal meeting with Jalin Hyatt at the Combine, so he does check that box. However, I think it's very unlikely that the Steelers use their 17th overall pick on a receiver; much less on Hyatt, for that matter.