Home Steelers DraftDraft Analysis My Seven Favorite Options for the Steelers in Round One

My Seven Favorite Options for the Steelers in Round One

by Steeldad

The 2023 NFL Draft is now less than a week away and while many believe they know exactly who the Pittsburgh Steelers will take in Round One the truth is this; no one knows… Not even the Steelers. When you’re drafting 17th, the are far too many variables for anyone to just point at a guy and say “It’s gonna be him.” With all of this and more in mind, I’m going to lay out my favorite options for the Black and Gold. If you’re looking for something else to do until the Draft, check out these enticing table games for cash!

OK. Let’s just go ahead and get some of the guys they are NOT drafting out of the way. I see it highly unlikely that Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis or any other well-thought of QB will be the pick. I also think you can take out Will Anderson, Jr, Tyree Wilson, Bijan Robinson and Jalen Carter as well. And despite what my heart tells me, I’m going to push Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon off of my list as well.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s talk about the guys I think are the best options to go at 17 for the Steelers. These are in no particular order either.

Peter Skoronski T/G, Northwestern, Paris Johnson, T, Ohio State, Broderick Jones, T, Georgia

As far as I’m concerned, Skoronski will be gone and will likely go on to be a perennial All-Pro guard for someone but I can cross my fingers and hope there’s a run on QBs, CBs and EDGE rushers. Both Johnson and Jones are likely to be gone as well but… I can at least see scenarios where one of these two is still there. Long shot scenarios but still… Both would be immediate plug and play guys at tackle and could go on to be there for a decade. Both are athletic and are talented run and pass blockers and would be ‘run to the podium’ selections in my book.

Brian Branch, S, Alabama

I think fans are going to realize how solid of a player Terrell Edmunds had become if the Steelers are forced to go with Keanu Neal exclusively at strong safety. Branch would be a significant upgrade. He can play in the box or center field. He can cover man to man in the slot and he’s an excellent blitzer off the edge as well. His presence immediately makes others around him freer to make plays.

Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Van Ness is a perfect example of why college stats matter little to NFL scouts, GMs and Coaches. He didn’t start one game during his college career yet here he finds himself a potential top 20 pick. He has ideal size, length, speed, athleticism – you name it – to be a star in the NFL. If he is sitting there at 17 and the Steelers’ choices of cornerbacks and tackles have been exhausted then you’d have to consider him.

Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia

There is one major knock on Smith and it surrounds his lighter weight for an outside backer. If you actually watch the film however, you’ll see a guy who consistently sets the edge with aggressiveness and a high motor. Even if the Steelers aren’t convinced he can play there I would still have no problem with selecting him. If used properly, he could literally play anywhere on the defense. He’s fast and plays violently without being out of control. I would have no issue with at 17.

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Most people have this young man listed as a late first/early second rounder but I look at how he plays and for me? He fits better than Joey Porter, Jr. He’s a classic press-man guy who plays with tremendous energy and physicality. I admit, he’s got some technique things to clean up but I’d argue he’s also the best tackler of these top cornerbacks and we know how Mike Tomlin demands his corners but great run stoppers. Pick 17 may seem a bit rich for him, but not too rich for my blood.

Things to Keep in Mind

With this being the first time Omar Khan is in charge of a Draft for the Steelers, we have to go ahead and assume that he’s not going to do the same things that his predecessor Kevin Colbert did. Already in free agency period, Khan has shown the willingness to make moves that I really don’t believe Colbert would have made. He’s reinforced the interior of both lines and has added solid if unspectacular pieces at linebacker and in the secondary. His recent move to acquire wide receiver Allen Robinson for what amounts to peanuts has very little risk and solid potential.

With regards to the Draft, I’m expecting the unexpected. I’m hoping that Khan finds a way to move down either from 17 or 32 in an effort to grab a few extra picks but that’s easier said than done considering it takes two to tango.


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