Ranking the Steelers 10 most likely first round picks ahead of the NFL Draft

The Steelers first round pick is likely coming off this list, and here is a ranking of the ten names that make sense at pick 20.
Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (2)
Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

As we prepare for the first round of the NFL draft in just a few weeks, I wanted to revisit my draft prospect rankings for this team. I compiled a list of 100 draft prospects that make sense for the Steelers given the team’s pre-draft needs and interests. From that list, I identified ten prospects that are likely first-round prospects.

I want to give my honest ranking of these ten first-round targets as to how I would want the Steelers to target them. I’ll be considering the hole that they would fill as well as the talent themselves for this ranking. With all of that said, here is my list of first-round prospects and how much I want the Steelers to draft them.

Steelers first-round target #10: Nate Wiggins

I am, for the most part, against the notion of the Steelers taking a cornerback in the first round this year. While Donte Jackson is a short-term option, there are bigger and more important needs on this roster.

Of the ten names on my list, I am the most against Nate Wiggins. While his athleticism is impressive, his size isn’t. He is far too light to play at cornerback effectively, and adding significant weight will, naturally, make him slower. He is a hard pass for me due to the weight concerns.

Steelers first-round target #9: Kool-Aid McKinstry

Like Wiggins, my general lack of want for Kool-Aid McKinstry stems from the lack of pressing need at cornerback. Beyond that, some injury concerns with him make you want to pause before taking him. He does have better size than Wiggins though, so I would rather see him be the choice in the first round if push came to shove.

Steelers first-round target #8: Adonai Mitchell

We are out of the players that I would really detest being drafted in the first round. That said, I’m not overly keen on taking Adonai Mitchell at pick 20. My main issue is that his game is very similar to George Pickens’ so adding him would be repetitive. Also, I would rather get better in the trenches instead of taking a receiver early.

Steelers first-round target #7: Jackson Powers-Johnson

If you have followed along, I have been under the impression that the centers will fall in this class as they usually do. While Jackson Powers-Johnson is the best pure prospect at the position, he is second on my board. There is safety in taking him, but the ceiling isn’t where I would want it as a first-round pick.

That said, I can’t deny the need here and the fact that he would essentially be a plug-and-play starter. While I may have a day-two grade on him, he fills a major need on this team which boosts him over the aforementioned names. That said, this isn’t a pick I would be keen on.

Steelers first-round target #6: Troy Fautanu

This was a hard player to gauge. His tape is excellent and he tested as a freak athlete. Add in good length and there is something to work with. The issue is his height, and for a Steelers team that covets size, he just doesn’t seem like a fit. I think he would also just in general be a better interior option over a tackle. Pittsburgh taking him would be an injustice, as they would be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Steelers first-round target #5: Terrion Arnold

As stated, I am not in favor of a first-round cornerback, but if they did go that route Terrion Arnold is the most complete option. He is great in man coverage, and while he isn’t a freaky athlete, he plays fast. He is also the most physical of the three, and that makes him a better fit for this defense if he were to be the pick.

Steelers first-round target #4: Taliese Fuaga

The last four names are all personal favorites of mine, and this list gets really close here. Frankly, I would be fine with any of these four names even if I have a slight preference for the top name.

Taliese Fuaga is probably the safest name on this list, but he also has the lowest ceiling. He is a plug-and-play right tackle. While I want his arms to be a little longer, there is little reason to believe that he won’t have a good career on the right side of the line for whatever team drafts him.

Steelers first-round target #3: Amarius Mims

On one hand, there is arguably no tackle (or player in this draft in general) with a higher ceiling than Armarius Mims. He has a rare build, is a great athlete for his size, and was dominant in a stiff SEC division. The issue is the lack of tape, as he only started eight games. That makes him a huge risk as a first-round pick. The potential makes it worth it, but you are looking at a boom or bust prospect here.

Steelers first-round target #2: Graham Barton

Graham Barton is a name that has slowly moved up my personal big board. While I am low on the centers in this class, Barton is the exception. While mostly a tackle at Duke, he has great size to kick inside, and most project him as a center. I think he has the potential to be a top name at the position. There is some projection in his game, but he is easily the top center in this class to me.

Steelers first-round target #1: JC Latham

JC Latham has seemingly fallen down a few people's draft boards, but I think he is easily the best fit for the Steelers in the first round. He has the size the team wants and played extensively at right tackle in college. He can likely start right away and has a high ceiling as a player. While he lacks the generational potential that Mims has, he can still be a great player and his floor is significantly higher.

Next. Steelers will regret not making these six free agent deals in 2024. Steelers will regret not making these six free agent deals in 2024. dark

I am fairly confident that the Steelers first-round pick will come from this pool of ten players given their pre-draft interest and needs on the roster. That said, I would not be as equally happy if the team opts to take certain players.