NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who is Steelers Taking?

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It won't be long before the 2023 NFL Draft is finally here as Steelers Nation will soon start seeing a plethora of mock drafts all over the place. Even though it's still very early now, some popular mock drafts all have a common theme when it comes to the Steelers.

It's no secret that the Steelers need help on defense, especially at key positions like defensive back, linebacker, and at edge rusher. Currently with the No. 17 overall pick, the Steelers should be able to draft a solid defensive player that can come right in and take care of business.

Such a player would be defensive back Brian Branch out of Alabama. At 6-0 and 190 lbs., Branch was a tackling machine in his three years with the Crimson Tide. In his collegiate career, Branch totaled 172 tackles, four sacks, 23 passes defended, and three interceptions.

Latest NFL mock drafts have Steelers focusing on defense at No. 17

In a recent mock draft roundup, Derrick Bell of Sports Illustrated had this to say about Branch and why he would be a perfect fit on the Steelers' defense:

""Branch is an instinctual, twitched-up athlete who checks a lot of boxes for what the Steelers look for in a defensive back. Branch can do all of the things that Mike Hilton and Arthur Maulet have done in years past while being a bigger, better athlete with much more upside in coverage.""

Derrick Bell, Sports Illustrated

Our friends over at Steelers Wire also have the Steelers focusing on defense with the No. 17 overall pick. In a recent mock draft roundup, Curt Popejoy of Steelers Wire went with linebacker Trenton Simpson out of Clemson which makes a ton of sense.

In the grand scheme of things, it would be best for the Steelers to double down this offseason at linebacker. Grab a veteran linebacker in free agency and draft another to develop under him for the next few years. That way, the Steelers would get a viable starter right off the bat for the upcoming season and a backup linebacker to develop over time to help bring stability to the positional group.

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We'll keep an eye on more Steelers mock drafts as they come out over time but for right now, going defense with their first-round pick is ideal. It is a major area of opportunity for the Steelers to bolster their defense and build around the amazing T.J. Watt if they're ever to bring that consistent smashmouth kind of defensive football back again in the future.