Value, Value, Value

Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Omar Khan knocked it out of the park in his first draft as General Manager. An aggressive free agency that chipped away at holes in the roster, helped set up a smart and calculated draft by the Steelers led by Khan, head coach Mike Tomlin and assistant General Manager Andy Weidl.

“What do they call him, the Khan Artist?” Tomlin said of Khan as the first year GM executed and operated like he’s been on the job [as General Managers] for 10 years.

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RD 1 (14): OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
RD 2 (32): CB Joey Porter Jr, Penn State
RD 2 (49): DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
RD 3 (93): TE Darnell Washington, Georgia
RD 4 (132): OLB Nick Herbig, Wisconsin
RD 7 (241): CB Cory Trice, Purdue
RD 7 (251): OT Spencer Anderson, Maryland

Multiple Great Value Picks: Where the Steelers excelled greatly at with their 2023 draft class was finding value all over the map and this isn’t some type of redshirt class by any means. There’s the potential for multiple contributors for the 2023 season. Khan & Co were aggressive in trade talks in the leadup to the draft about moving up into the top-10 with Paris Johnson Jr being the targeted player that would have tempted the Steelers to make a significant jump to 8 or 9 if he were to fall. Instead, the Steelers made their play with much less risk in trading up three spots for the 14th overall pick to select offensive tackle Broderick Jones out of Georgia who the team had rated as the second-best tackle in the draft and was bound for the New York Jets at No. 15 if the Steelers with a helping hand from the Patriots had not jumped ahead of New York.

“Broderick was a player we identified that would be a great addition to our team,” said Steelers general manager Omar Khan. “Really excited. I think he’s going to be a great Steeler for a long time. Love his athleticism. Love his upside. Our job is to bring in competition. By the time we get to the opening game, the best five offensive linemen will play.” With high upside and elite athleticism, Jones was a selection universally praised as he went right where he should have and the cost of a 4th rounder to move up was less than what the trade chart said it should have been.

Finding good to great value picks really hit home for the Steelers brass the rest of the way. Joey Porter Jr at No. 17 would have been one of those tweener picks where some saw it as an area he should go while the whispers days leading up to the draft that his draft stock was miscalculated by the media and draft pundits as a likely mid-teens first round pick compared to where NFL teams really rated him end up ringing true. Still, this was a player that had a first-round grade on a lot of draft boards and the Steelers not being enticed by multiple trade offers for the 32nd selection shows Pittsburgh had a legit first-round grade on Porter as this was a deep cornerback class. With great size and attributes at 6-3, 192, Porter has all the makings of being an impact rookie in 2023.

“He’s got a lot of great attributes, size, competitive, athletic, tough,” Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said of Porter. “We’re looking forward to him coming in and competing. We’re looking forward to him contributing this year. There’s no redshirt [with Porter].”

In the third round was more magic from the Steelers. Trading back from No. 80 to land No. 93 and getting a 4th round pick back (132) saw the Steelers select Tight end Darnell Washington out of Georgia, an elite blocking tight end with great measurables. “I think the awesome thing about [Darnell], besides his measurables, is his mindset, I mean, here’s a guy that I think maybe has sixth offensive linemen on his license plate,” said Mike Tomlin.

Washington was rated as a top-40 prospect from a number of draft experts, ranking 30th from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, and 38th and 39th respectively by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr and Todd McShay. It didn’t stop with Washington in finding value. You won’t find many complaints about the selection of Wisconsin linebacker OLB Nick Herbig and cornerback Cory Trice who at 6-foot-3, is a 4th round talent the Steelers got in Round 7 as injuries saw Trice get drafted much later than he should of.

Wild Card at 49? Nose tackle Keenau Benton at the 49th overall selection was one of rare Steelers picks of the weekend where there wasn’t as much universal agreement as being good value compared to others. Some love Benton and had clear second-round grade on him, while others think he’s more of an athletic specimen than an actual productive football player and there’s some talk Benton was regarded as more of a third-fourth round prospect than a clear second rounder.

Addressing the defensive line early, though, was a major need heading into the draft and Benton at 6-4, 310, fits the identity Tomlin is trying to establish moving forward in Pittsburgh being a team that bullies you at both lines of the scrimmage. Benton certainly fits the bill after starting 36 games over four years at Wisconsin and

“There are some good football players there,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said of the team being drawn to Wisconsin players. “When you look at a lot of guys, they kind of fit the Steelers mold. Tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar guys. You know what you’re getting when you get a guy from that school. He’s a big body, but he’s not a two-down guy. He’ll get a chance to move outside and play on third down.”