Well, Steeler Nation, the Draft for 2023 is in the rear-view mirror. And now that we have all had a minute or two to take in all the excitement that the Draft in Kansas City was able to produce for the Steelers, let us review. Pittsburgh went into the Draft with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th & 7th round selections, but that is not how it turned out in the end.
In this being Omar Khan’s first draft as the new General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he sure was able to check off many of the needs/wants of the team and garner an “A” grade with the players that he was able to add to the roster. Let’s take a look at Omar’s handy work, shall we??
Boom…out of the gates, Khan trades the 17th overall pick and the 4th round pick to New England to move up to select Brodrick Jones Offensive Tackle from the University of Georgia, with the 14th overall pick. Jones, a redshirt sophomore who weighs in at 6’5” and 311 pounds, started the last four games in their National Championship run in 2021 and was a full-time starter in 2022 for the Bulldogs! He is physically dominant in the run game, but Jones will still need some coaching up to improve his pass protection. Still, Brodrick has a lot of potential, and I’m sure he will make a great pass protector for QB Kenny Pickett and lead the way for RB Najee Harris this upcoming season!
The Steelers possessed the most coveted pick in all the draft outside the first overall pick, which is the first pick in the 2nd round of the NFL 2023 Draft. The Steelers were on the clock from the end of day one to just when they made their selection in the 2nd round. This coveted pick came courtesy of the trade of Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears. With the 1st selection in round two, Khan wasted no time in selecting a cornerback from Penn State, Joey Porter Jr.! A stand-out at Penn State, Porter Jr., is 6’2” and 193 pounds which is a perfect size for a CB in this league. Folks, after watching this young man play at Penn State the last few seasons, it is abundantly clear that the Steelers got another GEM with Porter Jr. He has great size and is good in tight coverage. Joey excels at combat hands and possesses a large wing span. He has good speed but will need some coaching to be a shut-down corner at the next level! This pick was a good one, Steeler Nation!!
The second 2nd round selection for the Steelers and Khan came by way of Wisconsin, and that is Keeanu Benton, who they took with the 49th overall selection. Benton is a defensive tackle who was an All-Big Ten third-team selection by the coaches in 2022. He played in 12 games, in which he started all of them. He finished the season with 36 tackles, ten being for a loss, and tallied four and a half sacks. At 6’3 and 312 pounds, this player has good body size and should offer strength up the middle. He also possesses good hands. That’s why you should look for him to be part of the rotation sooner rather than later!
Omar made a trade in the 3rd round with the Carolina Panthers, sending them the Steelers’ 80th overall pick in exchange for the 93rd pick in the 3rd round. And to recoup a 4th round, he traded to New England to get the Panther’s 132nd overall pick. With all that said, the Steelers selected Darnell Washington, a tight end from the University of Georgia—making this the 3rd player in 2 years that the Steelers have selected from UGA’s two National Championship teams. Washington is another large-bodied TE at 6’7 and 270 pounds, and while this guy might not break any land speed records, he will catch anything thrown to him. So, if other teams are smart, they won’t bother getting in his way!!!
The Steelers seemingly have a penchant for teams in the Big Ten and SEC this year, and that only continued with their next selection when Khan and the Steelers brought in Nick Herbig, the Linebacker from Wisconsin. This 6’2”, 228-pound First-Team All-Big Ten Player started all 11 games this season. Herbig led the Badgers with 11.0 sacks and 15.5 TFLs while ranking 6th on the team in total tackles (47).
What do you know, another Wisconsin defensive playmaker…hmmm, that makes two now on the team!
Staying in the Big Ten for yet another pick in the 7th round, the Steelers selected Cory Trice Jr., the 6’3”, 215-pound cornerback from the Purdue Boilermakers. Cory has played in all 34 games at Purdue and started 24 of them. He is another massive corner that is much needed in this day and age in the NFL, as Wide Receivers and Tight Ends are much larger and faster. Solid production from Cory over his college career alludes to him being an excellent addition to the Defensive Backfield for the Steelers since the departure of Marcus Allen and Edmonds!
With the trade with the Rams to bring in wide receiver Allen Robinson, the Steelers received a compensatory pick from the Rams in the 7th round of the Draft. The Steelers selected the 6’4”, 305-pound Guard from Maryland, Spencer Anderson. This young man blocked for a Maryland passing offense that ranked third in the Big Ten in 2022 by averaging 259.8 yards per game in the air. Spencer has good feet, as guards need to have, and has a great wing span and offers strength inside; in addition to all that, he also has a quick first step. Anderson should be a nice depth piece and could prove to push some of the starters!!
All in all, I would give Omar Khan a grade of “A” for his first full draft. He made deals to move up for a player that he wanted and that he thought would help the team with the 1st round selection of OT Jones. Then with the coveted first pick on the 2nd day, Omar did not disappoint in drafting Joey Porter Jr.! The players selected in this draft are of significant need to the team, unlike in years past when Colbert would draft the best athlete. I am all for getting great athletes, and Cobert has had some very memorable drafts in the past, but for Khan to come in and, in his first year, manage to knock it out of the park by getting key talented players for major needs of the team is just the beginning in my book. Khan had a busy off-season by landing Free Agent players like Robinson at WR and getting two outstanding Offensive Linemen as well. Just more proof that the winds of change are coming to Pittsburgh, and the future is looking bright.