Will Steelers use first-round pick on this position for first time under Mike Tomlin?

Mike Tomlin is looking forward to the upcoming NFL Draft
Mike Tomlin is looking forward to the upcoming NFL Draft / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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No, the Steelers should not use pick 17 on an offensive tackle

Pittsburgh’s offensive line steadily progressed throughout last season, and while added depth is needed, there’s no reason to spend a first-round pick on an offensive tackle since the Steelers have the first pick of the second round. 

The same starting five combined to play all but 12 snaps last year, with Moore, Dotson, and right guard James Daniels not missing a play in 1160 snaps. Center Mason Cole missed only 11 plays all season, while Okorafor sat out one snap. So, continuity with the offensive line is key, and the Steelers proved that as the season played out.

The 2022 unit jelled into a solid group over the last half of the season, helping the Steelers average 146.4 rushing yards per game during the last nine contests. This mark was 51.6 rushing yards per game more than the first eight games of the year. 

In addition, the Steelers had 12 rushing touchdowns over the final nine games, compared to four in the first eight contests. In terms of the passing game, the Steelers offensive line only allowed 11 sacks over the last eight games of the season.

Thus, the Steelers could elect to draft an offensive tackle in a later round. It would arguably be a better use of resources, allowing the Steelers to use their first round pick on another position of need. 

Those likely available in later rounds include Ohio State’s Dawand Jones (6-8, 374, 6.32 NFL.com Prospect Rating), Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison (6-4, 315, 6.27 prospect rating), Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron (6-5, 318, 6.39 prospect rating), North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch (6-5, 302, 6.36 Prospect Rating), and Alabama’s Tyler Steen (6-6, 321, 6.13 prospect rating).

Dawand Jones is a massive human with long arms (36 3/8 inches) and huge hands (11 5/8 inches). He was the Buckeyes’ starting right tackle last season and has been moving up draft boards during the pre-draft process. He was rated as the eighth-best offensive tackle at the combine by NFL.com. It’s now possible he could be selected in the late first round, although he could be available for the Steelers at pick 32, the first selection of the second round this year.

Harrison has quietly risen on draft boards, and like Dawand Jones, could possibly be selected in the back half of the first round. He’s likely to be available at pick 32, which is why he’s listed here. Harrison was basically a three-year starter at left tackle for the Sooners and earned first-team all-conference honors as a senior. He graded out as the fifth-best offensive tackle at the combine, according to NFL.com, and would challenge Moore immediately for the starting role on Pickett’s blind side.

Bergeron played both tackle positions at Syracuse, and could also make a move inside to guard if needed. He was a second-team all-conference selection as a senior and graded out as the 10th-best offensive tackle at the combine according to NFL.com. He could be available with the Steelers’ second selection of the second round, pick 49 overall.

Like Skoronski, Mauch has also been projected by many to move inside to guard due to his arm length (32 3/8 inches). He did well at the combine, ranking fourth overall among offensive tackles according to NFL.com. He will likely be available for the Steelers in the second round.

Steen is a sleeper in my opinion, as there hasn’t been much chatter about him. I believe he will be drafted in the third or fourth round but he has tremendous upside. Last year, Steen made 13 starts at left tackle for the Crimson Tide as a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt. He earned second-team all-conference and ranked 13th among offensive tackles at the combine, according to NFL.com.

Prediction: If Paris Johnson, Jr. or Broderick Jones are there at pick 17, it will be hard for the Steelers to pass on one of them. They both just seem like Steelers to me. However, if they’re not available, I look for the Steelers to pass on the offensive line with their first pick and address it with one of their two second-round choices.

Next. Steelers mock draft: Early selections reflect pre-draft interests. dark

What do you think the Steelers will do in round one of the 2023 NFL Draft? Let me know in the comments section below!