Steelers draft mailbag: Favorite prospects, possible trade-up rumors, and more
By Tommy Jaggi
The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, and it's time to put all of this film study to good use. Since January, I have been diagnosing film on dozens of the top draft prospects from the 2023 class. The Pittsburgh Steelers could go a number of directions early, but their pro-day meetings and pre-draft visits shed light on their biggest interests.
Pittsburgh owns three selections in the top 50, so hitting on early prospects will be key in reshaping their roster. I recently opened up a Steelers Q&A on Twitter where fans chimed in with their Steelers draft questions. Let's dive in!
Steelers draft Q&A
Brandon: Do you see a need to give up draft capital and move up to 9 as the rumors suggest they have discussed with Chicago or would you rather hold pat or trade back instead?
Tommy: That's a tough situation and it comes down to your view of the offensive tackles. Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones will be gone if they stand pat at pick 17. Ideally, I would like to trade up to pick 12 and jump ahead of the Jets if one of these two players is still on the board.
Jonas: Slot is a need (according to Steelers beat writers), so from pick 120 and later, which players do you see as a good fit?
Tommy: I think if Michigan State's Jayden Reed is there, that's a perfect fit. I really like his game. Cincinnati's Tyler Scott is another. Both could be gone by this point. Penn State's Parker Washington or Purdue's Charlie Jones could be fall-back plans.
Kyle: What’s the one guy you hope the Steelers draft based on the film you watched?
Tommy: Georgia OT Broderick Jones is my draft crush this year. A long, athletic left tackle prospect with outstanding movement skills and solid play strength. The upside is through the roof and he got better each game. I think that's the ultimate prize for the Steelers this year.
a: Explain to me why some would be happy about Branch at 17. Love your work!
Tommy: Thank you! I get that Brian Branch has solid film and I like his ability to cover the slot. However, it's about projecting forward. He doesn't play the most valuable position, and he's not an elite athlete. I think you are getting a solid, yet unspectacular player. Not at pick 17.
Brandon: Do you feel it's worth it to give up 17 and 49 to get Paris Johnson or Broderick Jones as opposed to keeping our picks and getting one of Wright, D. Jones, or Harrison?
Tommy: For pick 17 and pick 49, yes, for either Jones or Johnson. I think they are a tier above the other offensive tackles in this class and project as long-term starting left tackles. I would rather do that than settle for whatever OT is leftover in round two.
Brandon: Why has Gonzalez seemingly leapfrogged Witherspoon as the top CB in the last few weeks?
Tommy: I think there are a few reasons for that. Gonzalez has a significantly better size and athletic profile and he had a great pre-draft process. Meanwhile, Witherspoon doesn't have ideal size/length (181 lbs with 18th percentile wingspan) and did hardly any testing.
Brian: Is Paris that much better than the next tier of Jones/wright/ dawand/ Harrison?
Tommy: I have Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones in the same tier because they project as long-time left tackles. Darnell Wright is next with Dawand Jones and Anton Harrison in the tier lower. I view Peter Skoronski as an interior offensive lineman in the NFL.
PARABOLIC: Who are the top players at their respective positions?
Tommy: Offense: QB C.J. Stroud, RB Bijan Robinson, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TE Dalton Kinkaid, OT Paris Johnson Jr., OG/C Steve Avila. Defense: DT Jalen Carter, EDGE Will Anderson, LB Jack Campbell, CB Christian Gonzalez, S Brian Branch
Bronx: Do the Steelers move up to get a left tackle?
Tommy: I think that it's certainly possible with the extra second-round pick this year. I know they like Paris Johnson a lot. It would have to be at the right asking price. Pick 17 and pick 32 might prove to be too steep for their liking.
Jonas: What’s your take on Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, and would you take him at 80?
Tommy: Man, I really like Hodges' game, but 5'8'' and 178 pounds with 29'' arms is so small -- even for a slot cornerback. Still, the size profile isn't all that different from Mike Hilton and he's a much better cover guy. I think he carves out a role, but I can't take him before RD3.
Hines: Porter and Broderick are available ( somehow) at 17. Who do the Steelers select ?
That's a tough one. I want to say that the answer should be Broderick Jones. True left tackle prospects are hard to find. However, Joey Porter checked more boxes during the process by getting a pre-draft visit in addition to the team showing interest at his pro day and the NFL Combine. Jones would be my pick, but based on my charting and projected interest, I think the Steelers might go with Joey Porter Jr. in this scenario.