The Pittsburgh Steelers started out the season slow, holding a 2-6 record halfway through the year. This is something many fans of the black and gold don’t normally see, considering head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season. This young team was able to turn it around at the halfway point and to finish with a record of 9-8, but despite the turnaround they fell short of seeing the playoffs.
To ensure this doesn’t happen again next season, there are a few positions they should look to find some help with and that can be found in the first round of the draft.
They have a talented, young offense. QB Kenny Pickett seems to be the guy for Pittsburgh, and is accompanied by young help like RB Najee Harris, WR Diontae Johnson and WR George Pickens. But in order for the skill positions to get the ball rolling, they need some help on the offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, the Steelers are extremely talented, when they are healthy. OLB T.J. Watt and S Minkah Fitzpatrick are some of the best in the NFL, but when they go down, you can see the lack of depth.
Let’s jump in to who the Steelers should look to take as they hold the 17th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3 options for the Steelers’ first round pick in 2023
Anton Harrison, OT Oklahoma
Most teams love the names Paris Johnson Jr. and Peter Skoronski, and I’m sure the Steelers do too, but they’re drafting at a point where those two guys will be off the board. Anton Harrison is right behind them, it is just a matter of how many teams drafting before them take an offensive lineman. If he’s available, this should be the Steelers first choice.
Standing at 6’5”, and weighing 315, Harrison certainly has the size. Not only that, he has phenomenal hands and is very quick for how big he is. He moves people exactly where he wants them to go. This past season, he only gave up 9 pressures on 447 snaps as a left tackle. This would be a wise pick if the Steelers were to go with him, considering Harrison could come in and immediately start, or at least make Dan Moore Jr. work to keep his role.
Joey Porter Jr., CB Penn State
There is quite the family tie to the Steelers when it comes to Joey Porter Jr. His father, Joey Porter, played at Colorado State and was drafted by Pittsburgh. Porter’s father won a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh and eventually joined the staff as an outside linebacker coach. This would be interesting and exciting to have a Porter back in the black and gold.
As far as skill, Porter is definitely needed in order to strengthen the depth chart. Porter stands at a solid 6’2” and has long arms. This is a good size at the cornerback position in order to go up against some receivers with some height on them. He has good technique and can play the ball well in the air. This past season, he missed three games, but recorded 27 tackles and 8 pass breakups. Porter may not come in and be a starter, but where the Steelers hurt this year is injuries in defense, and having a guy like Porter to throw in there when needed is not anything to take for granted.
BJ Ojulari, EDGE LSU
This is quite a long shot and a bit of a stretch to say the least, but hear me out. When T.J. Watt is not on the field, it is quite obvious. Ojulari’s presence would be known, as he is great rushing off the edge. Once again, this would strengthen the depth chart on defense, like I mentioned before with Joey Porter Jr.
Remember when T.J. Watt missed 8 games? The Steelers went 1-7 without him. Ojulari is raw and has a ton of upside. In his 2022 season at LSU, he recorded 36 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. His presence would have been amazing to have this past season when Watt was inactive, but since we can’t go back in time, a guy like Ojulari would change the future. If the Steelers were to take him, it would be a scary sight upfront for offenses that would have to go up against T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and BJ Ojulari.