Steelers load up the trenches in recent two-round NFL mock draft
The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine concluded on March 5th, and NFL executives are no doubt filing through their notes from the extended weekend in Indianapolis. Throughout the pre-draft process, the top needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been clearly defined. Fortunately for them, some of the strongest positions in the NFL Draft this year line up with their biggest needs.
We haven't had much time yet for the Combine results to sink in, but NFL Draft experts are busy making adjustments. Recently, Trevor Sikkema and Connor Rogers of Pro Football Focus posted a nearly two-hour episode of their two-round NFL mock draft on their NFL Stock Exchange Podcast.
In their post-Combine mock draft, Sikkema and Rogers have the Steelers beefing up their trenches in a big way. With the 17th overall pick in the first round, they are mocking Tennessee OT Darnell Wright to Pittsburgh.
Wright is coming off an impressive performance in Indianapolis where he showed plus movement skills and very good athletic traits for a 333-pound offensive tackle. This selection comes after the top three tackles (Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones, and Peter Skoronski) were all off the board.
With the 32nd overall pick (acquired via Chicago in the Chase Claypool trade), Sikkema and Rogers have the Steelers addressing the defensive trenches with Clemson DT Bryan Bresee. Bresee's film is up and down, but he has a coveted body type (6'5 3/8'', 298 lbs) and tested as a 90th percentile athlete among defensive tackles. Bresee needs to be more consistent from game to game, but Pittsburgh will try to fill the void left by Stephon Tuitt here.
To close out the two-round mock draft, PFF has the Steelers going with linebacker Trenton Simpson with their original second-round pick (the 50th overall selection). The athletic Clemson linebacker would present excellent value at this point in the draft as he has the ability to run sideline to sideline, blitz off the edge, and cover downfield.
Steelers get a strong draft in recent mock
Sikkema and Rogers know that Pittsburgh needs to place an emphasis back on the trenches as both the offensive line and interior defensive line have struggled to hold up over the past two seasons. Their selections here are hardly considered reaches as both Wright and Bresee would be respectable value for where they are picking.
If this mock draft comes to fruition, the Steelers could slide Wright in as their starting right tackle and have Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore battle it out for the left tackle job with the loser becoming the swing tackle next season.
On defense, Bresee would immediately be inserted into a heavy defensive rotation alongside Cameron Heyward with the hopes of developing into a full-time starter at the position. Trenton Simpson would likely start from day one at the 'Mack' linebacker position, as Pittsburgh is projected to lose Devin Bush in free agency.
This might not be the best-case-scenario mock draft for many fans, as it doesn't address a big need at cornerback. Still, Pittsburgh would be valuing athletic players with upside at important positions, and I wouldn't be too upset with these results.