Perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers will still make some moves in the 2023 offseason. Remember that there are still some gaps to fill on their roster. Of course, they can do so through the draft, especially with some players who may not necessarily be top-of-mind. Here we’ll look at the three sleeper rookie prospects for the Pittsburgh Steelers to target in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Steelers and GM Omar Khan have had a busy offseason. They have made moves to address gaps in their roster. Their recent signings, including Patrick Peterson and Cole Holcomb, have given them flexibility going into the upcoming NFL draft in just under a month. This offseason’s signings and re-signings have been quite beneficial in shaping the team’s roster.
With the draft quickly approaching, the Steelers have options with their 17th and 32nd picks. After attending the NFL Combine, the team’s draft board has likely undergone changes. This should open up new possibilities for the draft. As a result, it is an exciting time for Steelers fans as they wait to see who their team will select.
Overall, the Steelers have done an admirable job addressing some of their roster’s deficiencies in free agency. With the draft now fast approaching, the team has the opportunity to further bolster their ranks with new young talent. The possibilities for the draft are endless. Of course, it could go either way depending on who the team will ultimately choose.
Let’s look at three sleeper draft prospects for the Steelers in 2023.
1. Deonte Banks
The likelihood of all four of the top cornerbacks falling to the 17th pick is slim. This makes it difficult to predict who the Steelers will choose. While fans may want Joey Porter Jr., selecting the fifth-best corner in the class is still a solid choice due to the position’s depth in this draft. Enter Deonte Banks, a 6’0, 200-pound cornerback. He has impressed the Steelers with his physical style of play and impressive athleticism. This includes a 4.35 40-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine. Additionally, Mike Tomlin has seen plenty of Banks’ tape due to his Maryland connections.
Banks has faced NFL-caliber talent, including Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Marvin Harrison Jr., and has matched up well against them. Despite injury concerns that ended his 2021 season early, Banks has been a defensive contributor since his freshman year in 2019. He also has the physical profile to be a dominant cornerback. He has smooth transitions in and out of breaks to effectively mirror wide receivers. Overall, Banks may be higher on the Steelers’ draft board than many believe. If he is available at the 17th pick, he could be the team’s easy but surprising choice.
4.36u to kick off Day 2?!@TerpsFootball DB Deonte Banks was flying.
: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork
: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/0m0yPLG51S
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2023
2. Xavier Hutchinson
The Steelers are known for getting the most out of middle-round receivers. Xavier Hutchinson certainly fits the mold. Despite being a redshirt senior, Hutchinson is one of the most highly decorated receivers in this draft class. Recall that he has been named a three-time Big 12 All-American, a 2022 AP All-American, and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2022. He consistently produced at a high level. Hutchinson even finished the 2022 season with 107 receptions, 1,171 yards, and six touchdowns as Iowa State’s top receiving option.
Hutchinson’s versatility is one of his strengths. He is capable of playing both on the outside and in the slot and making big plays. He is a well-rounded receiver who has a deep understanding of the position, exhibiting a variety of release packages at the snap and utilizing both speed and strength to win. Hutchinson also displays excellent tempo and pace in his route-running. He can throw off defensive backs with mixed tempos and make quick lateral cuts to get open. These abilities make him effective both in the slot against zone coverage and on the outside as a receiver.
In summary, Hutchinson’s NFL-ready size, explosion, and steady improvement make him an ideal candidate for the Steelers in the middle rounds of the draft.
1. PJ Mustipher
The Steelers could also benefit from adding PJ Mustipher. He’s a nose tackle with a large and powerful build. While he may only be effective on early downs, Mustipher has the potential to be a valuable asset as a run-stuffer and depth player on the defensive line. Mustipher has the ideal physique for a defensive lineman playing in the A-gap. He is also capable of occupying space and blockers to allow his teammates to make plays.
Although he was initially recruited as a leaner penetration player, Mustipher has adapted to a larger-bodied role. This demonstrates his versatility as a player. Despite his increased weight, Mustipher has also maintained his athleticism and shows impressive hustle on every snap. In 2022, he improved his ability to leverage blockers and stack them at the point of attack. That shows promise as a true two-gap defender in the NFL.
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