Welcome to Mock Draft Monday, where we take a look at the latest projections for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Steelers are coming off a disappointing 9-8 season that saw them miss the playoffs for the second straight year. They have several needs to address, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at linebacker, cornerback, and wide receiver.
With that in mind, here is our mock draft for the Steelers based on the current draft order and using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator. We will explain each pick and how it fits the Steelers’ scheme and roster.
Round 1, Pick 17: Siaki Ika, DT, LSU
The Steelers need to find a long-term replacement for Cam Heyward, who will turn 34 in May and has two years left on his contract. Ika is a massive (6’4”, 350 lbs) and powerful interior defender who can anchor the run defense and collapse the pocket.
He transferred from Utah to LSU last year and had a breakout season with 45 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and four sacks. He also showed impressive athleticism and agility for his size. Ika would form a formidable duo with Isaiahh Loudermilk, who had a solid rookie season in 2022.
Round 2, Pick 49: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Steelers’ offensive line was one of the weakest units in the league last year, allowing 48 sacks and ranking 29th in run blocking by Pro Football Focus. They need to upgrade both tackle spots, as Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner are both free agents and neither played well in 2022.
Wright is a former five-star recruit who started at both left and right tackle for Tennessee. He has excellent size (6’6”, 330 lbs), strength, and length to handle edge rushers. He is also a mauler in the run game who can open lanes for Najee Harris.
Round 3, Pick 80: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
The Steelers have a star in Devin Bush at inside linebacker, but they need a reliable partner for him. Robert Spillane and Buddy Johnson are both solid backups, but not starters. Campbell is a tackling machine who led Iowa with 111 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and four sacks last season.
He has good size (6’5”, 243 lbs), speed, and instincts to play sideline to sideline. He is also adept at dropping into coverage and blitzing. Campbell would give the Steelers a versatile and productive linebacker who can play all three downs.
Round 4, Pick 120: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
The Steelers have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league with Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, but they could use some depth behind them. JuJu Smith-Schuster is unlikely to return after signing a one-year deal last offseason, and James Washington is also a free agent.
Ford-Wheaton is a big (6’3”, 220 lbs) and fast receiver who can stretch the field and make contested catches. He had 55 receptions for 1,004 yards and nine touchdowns for West Virginia last season. He would give Kenny Pickett another weapon to work with in his second year as the Steelers’ quarterback.
Round 7, Pick 234: Darrell Luter Jr., CB, South Alabama
The Steelers’ secondary was exposed last season, as they ranked 25th in pass defense and allowed 31 touchdown passes. They need to add some talent and depth at cornerback, especially with Joe Haden set to hit free agency at age 33. Luter Jr. is a sleeper prospect who had a stellar season for South Alabama last year.
He had six interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He has good size (6’0”, 190 lbs), ball skills, and physicality to play press-man coverage. He would be a developmental project for the Steelers who could contribute on special teams right away.
That’s it for our mock draft Monday edition. Let us know what you think of these picks in the comments section below. Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Who would you have picked differently? Stay tuned for more mock drafts as we get closer to the draft day.
Final Thoughts: Analyzing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 Mock Draft Picks
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a disappointing season in 2022, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. They have several needs to address in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, including on both the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at linebacker, cornerback, and wide receiver.
Their first-round pick, Siaki Ika from LSU, is a massive and powerful interior defender who can anchor the run defense and collapse the pocket. He would be an excellent fit for the Steelers and help fill the void left by the aging Cam Heyward.
Darnell Wright, a former five-star recruit from Tennessee, would be an excellent addition to the Steelers’ offensive line, which was one of the weakest units in the league last year. He has the size, strength, and length to handle edge rushers and would be a great complement to their star running back Najee Harris.
Jack Campbell from Iowa would be a versatile and productive linebacker who can play all three downs, a much-needed addition to the Steelers’ defense. He led Iowa in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks last season and has good size, speed, and instincts.
In the fourth round, the Steelers selected Bryce Ford-Wheaton from West Virginia, a big and fast receiver who can stretch the field and make contested catches.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster unlikely to return and James Washington also a free agent, Ford-Wheaton would be a great addition to the Steelers’ wide receiver corps.
Finally, Darrell Luter Jr. from South Alabama would be a developmental project for the Steelers who could contribute on special teams right away. He had a stellar season last year, with six interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.
Overall, the Steelers’ mock draft picks for 2023 address their needs well and would add talent and depth to their roster. It remains to be seen if these prospects will live up to their potential, but if they do, the Steelers could be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season.