Charting the Pittsburgh Steelers most likely early-round draft choices in 2023

Steelers, Joey Porter Jr.
Steelers, Joey Porter Jr. / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

One of my favorite things to do during the pre-draft process is to take notes on the players the Pittsburgh Steelers meet with in an effort to predict which direction they will go early in the NFL Draft. Numerous draft media sources on Twitter -- combined with WalterFootball tracking -- have shared every known visit this team has had with draft prospects dating back to the NFL Combine, and we have kept tabs on them with our pre-draft live tracker.

After some shakeups just before draft week, pre-draft visits are now finalized. With the information gathered from pro-day meetings, pre-draft visits, and NFL Combine meetings, I took the liberty of comprising a graphic that details the players the Steelers have shown the most interest in during the pre-draft process.

It's important to note that this isn't a perfect science. Obviously, the Steelers aren't necessarily going to pull from the top of the list on this chart. When they are on the clock anything can happen. They may determine that a particular player just offers too much value to pass on or perhaps go with a more pressing position of need.

It's also worth reminding everybody that there are a new pair of GMs in the building with Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl. Their order of doing business doesn't need to reflect what Kevin Colbert has done in the past. However, Mike Tomlin still has a heavy influence on this team, and if the past is any indication, these are the players the Steelers like the most.

Breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers biggest draft interests

Let's start from the top of the list. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been rumored to be in connection with Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. since the beginning of the process. This was clearly reflected in their draft interests.

After a formal visit with Johnson at the NFL Combine, Pittsburgh's brass had the coveted pro day dinner meeting with the talented tackle. He may very well be the top name on their radar, but it would almost assuredly require a trade-up to take him.

The next names on the list are the only three players this year to earn the visit 'trifecta,' Georgia OT Broderick Jones, Clemson DT Bryan Bresee, and Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. each earned a pro day meeting from the brain-trust, a pre-draft visit, and a Combine meeting.

I did put an asterisk next to Porter to indicate that Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were at the NFL owners' meeting while Penn State's pro day was going on, but Porter was still very well represented by Pittsburgh. Other likely first-round candidates include Maryland CB Deonte Banks and Tennessee OT Darnell Wright.

Early on day two, there seem to be some names that the Steelers are very interested in. Clemson LB Trenton Simpson had a pro day dinner meeting with Pittsburgh's brass and also formally met with the team at the NFL Combine. Dawand Jones is a player the team was rumored to be very interested in, but recent reports suggest that the Steelers were upset with him after his Ohio State pro day.

Some of the other possible second and third-round selections, based on Steelers pre-draft interests, include TE Darnell Washington, CB Kelee Ringo, DT Mazi Smith, EDGE Zach Harrison, C Luke Wypler, and CB Riley Moss.

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It will be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh Steelers do indeed go after some of these names early in the 2023 NFL Draft. It's easy to see where their biggest interests lie. Now it's just a matter of which players they will ultimately end up with early in the draft.