Re-grading Steelers 2023 NFL Draft

Omar Khan found value on all three days of the draft in 2023, and the arrow is pointed up.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks / Conor Courtney/GettyImages

Since I have been studying the NFL Draft, there haven't been many times when I felt like the Pittsburgh Steelers crushed the draft from top to bottom. Last year, when the draft concluded, I thought they did exactly that.

In his first draft as general manager, Omar Khan managed to find great value at important positions that happened to fill big roster needs. it was the perfect storm.

Pittsburgh's 2023 class didn't make an immediate impact from the gate, but by the middle of the season, they had steady and reliable contributors. The best part is that the Steelers' 2023 draft class is only scratching the surface of their potential. With only one year in the books, here are my early grades for the 2023 Steelers draft class.

Broderick Jones. B. 1st Round. Offensive Tackle. Broderick Jones

1st round: Broderick Jones, OT

Broderick Jones' tape was anything but clean during his rookie season. At times, he was late off the snap and his technique was all over the place. What was also noticeable, however, is that his traits and upside are undeniable.

Jones has the ability to make up for a false step thanks to elite athletic traits and his power as a run blocker was impressive. Jones certainly didn't have the best season for a rookie OT, but he was also playing out of position. The flashes are impressive and the arrow is pointed up. I give the Broderick Jones pick a 'B' one year after being drafted.

2nd Round. Cornerback. Joey Porter Jr.. Joey Porter Jr.. A+

2nd round: Joey Porter Jr., CB

Outside of the penalties and grabbiness, what's not to like about Joey Porter Jr.? The Penn State cornerback was by far the number one player left on the board when Day 2 of the draft opened last year, and this was an easy selection. Porter did nothing to disappoint as a rookie.

The sticky man-coverage cornerback used his elite size and length to reroute wide receivers and disrupt passing lanes. Porter even made a crucial interception that helped the Steelers advance to victory over the Ravens. He will never be a ballhawk, but he could be one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in the league. Porter would go much higher if re-drafted one year later. This is an 'A+' pick by Pittsburgh.

Keeanu Benton. A. 2nd Round. Defensive Line. Keeanu Benton

2nd round: Keeanu Benton, DL

Pittsburgh other second-round pick, Keeanu Benton, was nearly as impressive as Porter during his rookie season. While Benton was only a part-time player on the defensive line, he flashed his ability as both a run defender and an interior pass rusher.

Thanks to his explosive get-off and impressive flexibility, Benton has the upside to be one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL (and there aren't many players his size who can move the way he does). This pick appeared to be on value during the 2023 NFL Draft, but Benton would go much higher in a re-draft. The Steelers crushed it in the second round with these picks.

3rd Round. Tight End. Darnell Washington. Darnell Washington. B-

3rd round: Darnell Washington, TE

I know a 'B-' for Darnell Washington seems generous after the rookie season he had, but the process was right and I'm still trusting the talent to win out in the end. Washington offered very little as a receiver in his first season in 2023, and his blocking wasn't as consistent as it needed to be.

However, it's hard to deny his unmatched size and traits for the position. Washington can essentially serve as an extra offensive tackle. He doesn't project as a true TE1, but he possesses every trait to be one of the best 'Y' tight ends in the league if the Steelers can help him develop. His rookie season wasn't impressive, but I still think Washington was a solid choice in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Nick Herbig. A+. 4th Round. Edge Defender. Nick Herbig

4th round: Nick Herbig, EDGE

You aren't going to find many players on Day 3 that offer as much value as Nick Herbig could to the Steelers. During his rookie season, Herbig took a backseat to a talented group of edge defenders in Pittsburgh, but when he did get the chance to see the field, he didn't squander his opportunities.

Herbig was electrifying with his combination of speed and bend around the edge. This helped him earn numerous high-quality pass-rush wins while racking up 3.0 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and 3 QB hits in limited action as a rookie. Because of his lack of size, Herbig may never be a full-time player, but at this rate, he could be one of the better pass-rush specialists in the league.

Herbig was the best player on the board in the fourth round when the Steelers were on the clock, and Pittsburgh did the right thing by drafting him.

Cory Trice Jr.. C+. 7th Round. Cornerback. Cory Trice Jr.

7th round: Cory Trice Jr., CB

In most cases, I would give a lower grade for a pick like this. Cory Trice Jr. hardly saw the field for training camp when his rookie season ended before it started thanks to an ACL injury. The Steelers knew about this extensive injury history when they drafted him.

At the same time, Trice was by far the most talented player remaining on the board, and instead of trying to hit a single in the seventh round, Omar Khan swung for the fences. This could still work out in his favor if Trice can get healthy and prove himself in training camp this year. There's no guarantee that he sees the field for Pittsburgh, but I love the thorough process here. This pick still earns a 'C+' for me one year later without Trice ever seeing the field.

D+. 7th Round. Offensive Line. Spencer Anderson. Spencer Anderson

7th round: Spencer Anderson, OL

At the end of the seventh round, the pickings are slim. I didn't know anything about Spencer Anderson before he was drafted, but I could get behind the fact that he possesses quality athletic traits and offered position flexibility on the offensive line.

Still, most draft analysts had an undrafted grade on Anderson ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft. After his rookie season, Anderson still doesn't have a true position, and he saw just one snap on offense despite the incredible struggles of Mason Cole last season. I'm not closing the door on Anderson, but this never looked like a value pick from the start. I'm giving this selection a 'D+' for now, but I'm optimistic he can show something in Year 2.

Overall grade: A

After striking gold on players like Joey Porter Jr. and Keeanu Benton and seeing all the potential in first-round pick, Broderick Jones, how could the Pittsburgh Steelers not earn an 'A' grade for this 2023 re-draft? They found value on all three days of the draft and are only scratching the surface of their upside.