Why Steelers President Art Rooney II is the clear winner of the 2023 NFL Draft
By Eric Hassel
Now that the dust has settled following the 2023 NFL Draft, I think it's fair to say that the Steelers draft was a successful one (at least on paper). If you look at the players we drafted this time around, each player has a chance to contribute to our efforts. I would dare say that some players have a more than respectable chance to become 'day one' starters.
As we have discussed recently and during previous discussions, potential is one thing, but reality is quite another. Not only do I think our 2023 draft class has tremendous potential but I think that potential, by and large, will come to fruition in one form or fashion. You never know for sure whether a particular player you draft will live up to their billing, as it were, but if this draft class pans out, the sky is the limit.
Art Rooney II has to be proud of the way Steelers handled business during the 2023 draft
So, when I say that Art Rooney II has to be proud of the way we handled business during the 2023 draft, what I mean by that is this: think about how many drafts Rooney has been a part of during his time with the Steelers. Rooney was in his twenties when we drafted four future Hall of Famers in a single draft.
The 1974 draft class was the best draft class not only in Steelers history but in NFL history as far as I'm concerned. While Rooney has been a part of several great draft classes, some really good draft classes, and some not-so-great draft classes, I think it's fair to say that the 2023 draft class was arguably the best one since Mike Tomlin has been our Head Coach.
Couple that with the fact that our recently promoted General Manager, Omar Khan, and the rest of the Steelers front office orchestrated what most pundits are grading as an 'A' draft. I think the clear winner (if you're looking for a winner) is Rooney. I think in a way this draft offers some validation of his choice to promote Khan
Frankly, I had no idea about how Khan and the front office would handle this particular draft in terms of whether we would draft the best player available, whether we would avoid reaching for a player similar to what we have done in previous drafts, or whether we would be aggressive and do what was necessary to get the player we wanted without mortgaging the future.
I think it's fair to say the Steelers did exactly what was laid out above. We got quality players in positions of need without reaching and without expending significant draft capital to do so. I would chalk that up as a successful draft, one that I think Rooney is happy with and one that I think can be the catalyst to get us back into the tournament, as Tomlin calls it.
If the Steelers do get back into the tournament and we do happen to 'make some noise' and that trend continues until we win another Super Bowl, there's no question that Rooney will have won the day, as it were.