How the Steelers draft results alter the outlook in Pittsburgh this year

Steelers, Omar Khan
Steelers, Omar Khan / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2023 NFL Draft has wrapped up, let's discuss how the outlook for the season changes for the Steelers. Before we delve too deep into our discussion, I think it is prudent to recap what has transpired from the end of 2022 until now. After what I would describe as a season that had potential, albeit unrealized potential, as far as I am concerned, we found ourselves on the outside looking in once the postseason rolled around.

Although we finished with a winning record, which, quite frankly, I was not so sure about, the offseason was the only thing Steelers fans had to look forward to. I will say that I think Mike Tomlin did one of his best coaching job of his then sixteen-year tenure as our Head Coach. Going into year seventeen, only time will tell how the 2023 season unfolds.

So, after the 2022 campaign came to an end, we turned out attention to free agency. In what I described as a typical and somewhat mundane Steelers free agency, we re-signed some of our own players and signed free agents from other teams, most notably Nate Herbig, whose brother, Nick, we drafted in the fourth round, Issacc Seumalo, and Patrick Peterson.

Steelers, on paper, had an extremely successful and potentially dominant draft

So, I will say this right out of the gate: Potential is juxtaposed to reality. If you look at the players we drafted without having the benefit of seeing said players in a live NFL setting, I think it's fair to say we had arguably one of the best drafts of Tomlin's tenure. Again, that is based solely on potential.

How does this particular draft class change the outlook for the 2023 season? I guess that depends on what your outlook was prior to the draft. For me, my outlook was one of tempered expectations. I go back forty-five-plus years. Every year when I was 'coming up', the expectation was that the Steelers were going to compete for and play in the Super Bowl.

Since those expectations have not come to fruition in many years, unfortunately, my outlook is one of a 'wait and see'. With this draft class, I think my outlook may be slightly more elevated. We addressed positions of need, e.g., offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, and outside linebacker depth. We added a tight end with tremendous potential who hopefully will be able to overcome any medical issue he may have.

Darnell Washington, the aforementioned tight end, could become a very nice compliment to Pat Freiermuth. We could run a lot of 'ace' formations that would pose a serious coverage problem for the opposing defense. With Zach Gentry, the 'heavy' formation could be formidable. I suspect we will run some 'ace double wing' at the goal line.

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We could go on and on about what the offensive and defense could become with our newly 'minted' Steelers, but, again, we have not had the luxury of seeing anyone play in an NFL game. I think it's fair to say we drafted well, on paper, and filled needs which is really all we can ask for at this point. If our goal is to compete for a Super Bowl, did we accomplish that with the 2023 draft class? My final thought is this: It's looking pretty good.