Calculating Steelers' most likely first-round pick based on mock draft results

In 2024, the Steelers have no clear frontrunner for their first selection, except a player they reportedly don't want to draft
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / David Eulitt/GettyImages

In 2021, 2022, and 2023, the players the Steelers draft picks were easily guessable if not predicted by mock drafts. Najee Harris, Kenny Pickett, and Broderick Jones led each year with about a 30% plus chance of being drafted.

In 2024, any predictability of who the Steelers draft has essentially gone out the window. You could almost project that they draft Papa Smurf and have some assurance it might happen. The uncertainty stems from the fact that the Steelers may not know who they want to select first.

Even if they do, they might need to trade up. Thus, after reviewing 574 mock drafts (including Mel Kiper's) and who was the projected draft pick in each mock draft from December 2023 through mid-April 2024, I have calculated Pittsburgh's top possible draft picks into a percent chance of being selected. Here are the players with the best odds of being drafted by the Steelers.

Who are the leading contenders to be Steelers' top pick?

The leading contender for the Steelers coveted first-overall draft pick is Jackson Powers Johnson, who has about a 17.72% chance of being drafted. He is nearly tied with Amarius Mims, who has a 17.25% chance of the Steelers drafting him.

While the Steelers do need a center, a bunch of people who don't follow the Steelers just had them taking a center for no other reason. Those who know the Steelers and the comments made by Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan show better insight.

Thankfully, the 2024 draft class is pretty deep at tackle. Here is where the problem comes in. There is a high possibility that some of the centers will be available in the second round, and they will gamble, which will be the case. Drafting at 20, Mims is the likely one of the tackles that will be available for their selection. However, according to some sources, Mims is not a plug-and-play tackle, and the Steelers want to avoid drafting Mims.

They could shoot for Joe Alt, the tackle from Notre Dame, but for that to happen, they might need to trade up to six or seven. Joe Alt could and probably will go that high. That leaves Taliese Fuaga from Oregon State, Olumuyiwa Fashanu from Penn State, Troy Fautanu from Washington, and J.C. Latham from Alabama.

Of those, at least two more could go off the board. The determining factors of how many might still be available at pick 20 depend on how many wide receivers go in the early picks and quarterbacks.

The wild card in the mix would be teams trading up just to grab a tackle. Hence, the Steelers may still need to trade up, possibly to 12 or 15, if they are thinking of grabbing Faugua, Fashanu, Fautna, or Latham. It just depends on many factors, some of which can not be quantified.

Other potential draft Steelers candidates in Round 1

If something goes wrong in the Steelers' bid for a tackle, Powers-Johnson is the leading non-tackle candidate. He would be a likely candidate for Graham Barton, who might have a 7.14% chance of falling to the Steelers.

If you Don't want the Steelers to draft either of those? That's fine. Brian Thomas leads the Wide receivers with a 6.79% shot of going to the Steelers. Beyond that, cornerback Cooper DeJean has a 4.53% chance of becoming a Steelers player, as does Arnold Terrion with a 4.53% chance and Nate Wiggins with a 4.01% odds.

 With all things considered, we can reasonably assume that the Steelers take a tackle; however, who that ends up being is a matter of strong debate. Then again, if worse comes to worse, they take a center in the first round. Fans can be assured the Steelers' first section will not be a Quarterback, Defensive lineman, or cornerback, despite being some good options they could take.

Although 2024 could end up as an unconventional draft year for the Steelers, they could do the unpredictable thing again, like when they unexpectedly drafted Terrell Edmunds in 2018. Perhaps they should draft the college player with the cool name this season. Like the Jets taking Sauce Gardner in 2023, the Steelers should say the heck with it and grab Koolaid McKinstry.