Steelers make short-sighted move by passing on Jones, Porter in 2023 NFL re-draft

Of all the hypothetical NFL redrafts, this one might be the most bizarre.

Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders, Ivan Pace Jr.
Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders, Ivan Pace Jr. / Ian Maule/GettyImages
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With Super Bowl LVIII in the books, NFL fans and the media will now shift their attention to the offseason. Over the next three months, hundreds of roster moves will be made around the league through free-agent signings, draft selections, and trades that could make or break a team's chances of winning it all in 2024.

The first big pitstop is free agency. But while we sit back and wait until the legal tampering period begins on March 11th, media outlets explore hypotheticals. One of my favorites is re-drafting every team's first-round selection one year later.

In 2023 the Pittsburgh Steelers wowed draft analysts with the impressive haul they were able to land in the NFL Draft. Several of their top draft choices quickly proved to make pivotal impacts down the stretch during their rookie seasons.

Unfortunately, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports apparently doesn't agree. Trapasso recently comprised his 2023 NFL redraft, and with the 17th overall pick, he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace Jr.

Steelers wouldn't trade Jones or Porter for Pace

This selection is odd for several reasons. For starters, Pace went undrafted last April. There's no question that this had something to do with his short 5'10 5/8'' frame and tiny 30 1/4'' arms. Pace also excelled coming downhill in college but teams feared that he wouldn't be as effective due to his compact frame.

It's also weird that Trapasso has the Steelers passing on both Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. to take Pace in this 2023 redraft. Porter and Jones had their ups and downs as rookies, but they both were high-upside players at premium money positions.

After going undrafted, Pace signed with the Vikings, where he had an excellent rookie season. The former Cincinnati linebacker started 11 of 17 games and recorded 102 tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and an interception in his first year, per Pro Football Reference. However, off-ball linebackers are a non-premium position and only the most elite prospects should be valued in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Pace clearly outperformed expectations as an undrafted rookie, his play wasn't so remarkable that the Steelers could possibly justify passing up a freakishly athletic offensive tackle or a sticky man-coverage cornerback. There's no doubt in my mind that Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. would both go higher in a 2023 NFL re-draft than Pace.

Re-drafting an off-ball LB in Round 1 would be a short-sighted move

This would be such a short-sighted move. In addition to linebacker being a non-premium position in football, it's also a position where players typically have a short shelf life. Some of the best linebackers in the league start looking washed up when they enter their late 20s. In some ways, off-ball linebackers are kind of like the running backs of the defense.

On a side note, it's interesting that Trapasso has Pittsburgh's original second-round pick, Keeanu Benton, going to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 10th overall pick in his redraft.

Take all of this with a grain of salt. You can bet that Omar Khan and the Pittsburgh Steelers are thanking their lucky stars that they don't have to do a redraft. If they did, they would never be able to land the amazing haul they got the first time around in the 2023 NFL Draft. Their draft class wasn't perfect, but fans should be overjoyed with the promise their rookie class showed this past season.

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