Close this search box.

2023 NFL Draft Preview – Pittsburgh Steelers  

The Steelers finished strong in 2022 but the 2023 draft can fill the weakness on the team and help them get back to the playoffs

Credit to the mock draft simulation goes to NFL Mock Draft Database. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and will not be included in this exercise.


The Pittsburgh Steelers were in a transition year with Big Ben retiring and the team signing Mitch Trubisky and drafting Kenny Pickett. Pickett needs to impress more to be the confident long-term answer, but he was a first-round pick, so he’ll be the starter heading into 2023. The run game is set with Najee Harris bulldozing the way and the emergence of undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren who has been an excellent complement to Harris.

Diontae Johnson leads the receivers in most categories in 2022 besides touchdowns but should still be the clear WR 1 in the offensive for now. The Steelers drafted George Pickens, a highlight reel receiver and a challenger for the WR1 role on the team. They could use a third receiver, as Chase Claypool is gone. I don’t want to say that Calvin Austin III, another rookie receiver, will make that jump after a season-ending injury before the season started. The tight end position is solid with a young Pat Freiermuth, the reliable backup is Zach Grentley, and a rookie in Connor Heyward, who flashed as a rookie. The offensive line was terrible, giving up too much pressure and not allowing much running room, so that is a significant area of need.


The defense could be better in certain areas that need improving. They got tremendous pressure from Alex Highsmith and Cameron Heyward, who both had over ten sacks. The team sure missed TJ Watt for two-thirds of the season. The Steelers’ third-round pick DeMarvin Leal & seventh-round pick Mark Robinson were a no-show for their rookie season, hoping they can step up in 2023. Myles Jack and Devin Bush have regressed and likely won’t be back. In the Secondary, Minkah Fitzpatrick continues to dominate even with missing games, as he still managed six interceptions.

1.17 Peter Skoronski, OT., Northwestern 

It’s clear what the Steelers need to do with their first pick: select Peter Skoronski, an offensive lineman out of Northwestern. They need to give their young quarterback more time in the pocket to help his development. Skoronski has one of the highest football IQs in the class. He has elite hand usage on blocks, and his technique to sustain blocks is fantastic. He can move around if needed to fit any position among the offensive line. Skoronski effectively moves around on the block to help in the run game. He has a strong base and can move up the field to block into the second level. He has solid foot adjustment to deal with speedy edge rushers. The Steelers need to get back to doing what they do best: winning in the trenches, and Skoroski will provide a much-needed anchor to that unit.

2.32 Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson 

In the second round, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Trenton Simpson, a linebacker out of Clemson. Pittsburgh has a great history of elite linebackers, so it’s a big deal when you get drafted by the Steelers. Simpson had a great three years at Clemson, with 169 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks. Simpsons’ most impressive ability is in the passing game, as he has an electric range in coverage and can keep up with slot receivers and tight ends. He is explosive in his pursuit of the ball carrier as he hits hard and finishes even harder. He has a great instinct in pass coverage to break up plays.

The only concern with Simpson is that his production dropped in 2022 compared to his 2021 season. Clemson used him in different ways on the defense to a more stack role which is a bad fit for him. Scheme fit will be necessary for Simpson, which can work here in Pittsburgh. If he can get into a suitable scheme and grow in the run game, he has a significant upside in the NFL.

2.49 Tuli Tuipulotu, DT, USC

The Steelers will likely strike gold with their two-second round picks as they selected Tuli Tuipulotu, a defensive tackle from USC. In 2022 Tuipulotu was dominant as he produced 22 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. His speed and power to collapse angles on the offensive lines are exciting to watch on film. This year he showed more athleticism and looks pro-ready to be a day-one starter. On film, he has consistently pushed back blockers with ease and has shown to be a better finisher on plays. My only concern is his ability to regain speed when he gets pushed off his attack, which he needs to be more consistent with. Tuipulotu can be a day-one starter. He’ll likely see many one-on-one blocks due to the players around him, so he should dominate.

3.80 Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State

In the fourth round, the Steelers turned back to the defense and selected Will McDonald, an edge rusher from Iowa State. McDonald had a poor 2022 season with just five sacks. You’ll have to look back at 2021 and 2020 to see he put up 23 sacks and 26 tackles for loss. Overall he has 34 sacks in his career in Iowa. McDonald has the high motor to be an elite sack leader at the NFL level. He has a quick first step to pass defenders with hand counters and cross-chop to beat out linemen. His main issue is that he isn’t the best against the run, which could limit his field snap, but the sack potential can compensate for that. The good thing for McDonald, he will only be asked to be full-time right away with the players in front of him, so developing in 2023 will benefit him.

4.120 Joe Tippmann, IOL, Wisconsin 

In the fourth round, the Steelers return to the offensive line as they select Joe Tippmann from Wisconsin. Tippmann has an incredible combo of height, weight, and athleticism for his position. The Steelers will benefit from Tippmann’s positional flex upside so that he can play where their weakness is. He has raw power as a blocker that can sometimes be seen on film. Tippman has a strong base as a run blocker to throw off the defender from that attack. He is innovative in his play and knows how to use a defender’s speed to take advantage of plays. He can be overly aggressive on plays that let defenders get past him. Tippmann needs to be more consistent, and he enables defenders to get leverage on him at times. He can be an asset to the Steelers offensive line even with his concerns.

6.236 Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty

In the sixth round, the Steelers selected Demario Douglas, a wide receiver out of Liberty. Douglas’ 2022 stats produced 79 receptions, 993 yards, and six touchdowns. He showed he could be used anywhere on the field, as he had carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. When you watch him on film, he shows the speed and swiftness to make big-time plays for a team. Douglas has fantastic footwork in the short area to evade tackles. He has shown special team ability with two punt returns in college. The biggest issue is his size, as he is only 5’8″ and weighs 165 points. Douglas could be a better route runner, and coming from a smaller school; the NFL could be a challenge for him. The Steelers need to use Douglas to spread out the defense and allow their stars to see fewer double coverage.

6.243 Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB, LSU 

The Steelers’ final pick is Jarrick Bernard-Converse, a defensive back from LSU. Bernard was granted 5th-year eligibility and decided to return to college and transfer to LSU after years at Oklahoma State. He didn’t have an overly productive college career, with just four interceptions. Bernard brings excellent speed and quickness to the secondary and is an overall good athlete. He is a good tackler and wraps up ball handlers well, as he isn’t going to let players pass him. In coverage, he is excellent at locating the ball and breaking up plays. While he is very physical, it is also his downfall, as he grabs too often. His ability to anticipate a receiver’s route can be very inconsistent, allowing players to produce. Bernard isn’t an elite prospect, but he has good traits that, if coached up right, can make him a solid player in the secondary.

Fantasy Analysis

Douglas is the only offensive skill guy here, but I don’t see a productive first year for fantasy. He likely will play special teams and have plays where he goes deep, but I don’t see it being consistent. He’ll probably be a borderline fourth-round rookie pick at best. The biggest impact will come from the additions of Skoronski and Tippman to an offensive line that has struggled the past two seasons.

On the defense, I’m targeting Simpson and Tuipulotu, and McDonald. Simpson and Tuipulotu have better shots at being day-one starters on the defense. Their ability to get to players behind the line of scrimmage will greatly benefit fantasy. Simpson has the upside to create turnovers and Tuipulotu for his sack ability. They would both be second-round players in my books for IDP leagues. McDonald will likely go later, but based on the edge rushers the Steelers have, he’ll make a better impact in 2024.

Share on Social

More to read

UNlock Premium For Free

Deposit at least $10 at Underdog Fantasy and get our #Nerdherd and DynastyGM FREE for 12 Months!
Use code Nerds at checkout!
* Restrictions Apply | New Users Only


Rank Name Position Pos. Rank


Dominate your Dynasty leagues

Dynasty Nerds App is Mission Control for your Dynasty Leagues. Download Now!

Dominate your
Dynasty leagues

Dynasty Nerds App is Mission Control for your Dynasty Leagues. Download Now!

Black Friday Sale

25% OFF 

Coupon Code - holiday25
Sign-up Now
* Terms & Conditions Apply

Log In

Not a member yet?