Realistic draft 2023

Steelers biggest needs LT, DT, CB1, ILB

Nolan Smith
EDGE Georgia
32 John Michael Schmitz C Minnesota
49 Darnell Wright OT Tennessee
80 DJ Turner CB Michigan
120 Jaquelin Roy DT LSU
236 Tyson Bagent QB Shepherd
243 Ben Sims TE Baylor

Smith is an undersized edge rusher with elite change of direction and burst. As a pass rusher, he has a dynamic get-off from a two-point stance, and his ability to bend and close at the top of his rush is special. He is a very loose and twitched-up athlete. When he gets upfield, he can put his outside foot in the ground and explode back inside to defeat blocks. Against the run, he's at his best when he uses his quickness to slip blocks and penetrate. His lack of bulk shows up at times, as he'll get uprooted. He missed a big chunk of the 2022 season due to injury. Overall, Smith has a lot of similar traits to Haason Reddick, and I believe he'll be utilized in the same way at the next level.

Schmitz is a powerful center that offers the kind of stature that would shine in an inside zone and between-the-tackles gap running system. Offering effective punch and pad power as a run blocker, Schmitz projects as someone capable of generating the needed wash in the front to allow backs and lead blockers to hit gaps with confidence. There’s a stout anchor in pass protection present here as well. Schmitz does well against both interior blockers and second-level pressure players to slam the door shut and sit down on his hips to prevent collapse into his quarterback’s lap. What really got me excited, however, was the ability to execute cut-off and reach blocks when runs needed to gain a man to the run strength—Schmitz showcased surprising lateral mobility but also very efficient hands to twist and manipulate defenders to allow his guard to push and release to the second level. Furthermore, I thought he was a cerebral player with his strike timing and attacks to either create a firm stun punch or deconstruct defenders and get them off of their base at the point of attack. A multi-year starter at center,

A consensus five-star recruit, Darnell Wright delivered a highly productive career at Tennessee. He became a starter as a freshman at right tackle in 2019 and started every game there in 2020 before moving to left tackle in 2021 and then finishing his career back at right tackle in 2022. His experience against top competition, ability to play both sides, and growth in every season is a notable part of his evaluation.

Turner is a gifted and explosive athlete at the cornerback position. In coverage, Turner is an irritant for opposing wide receivers. He combines elite deep speed, oily hips, and quick-and-light feet to mirror and match his assignment. I love the patience and instincts he plays with, especially in man-to-man coverage. Turner has shown the ability to run with nearly every wide receiver he has faced this season. One of the best terms to describe his game is "sticky." On tape, he is routinely spotted in the hip pocket of opposing receivers. The ability to blanket talented receivers and remain in phase on most reps cannot be undervalued. An ultimate competitor, Turner plays the ball and the receiver’s hands to force pass breakups.Don’t forget, he is experienced as a zone corner as well.

As a run defender, Roy uses his athleticism to be able to quickly get into gaps and present penetration to potentially disrupt a play. Roy also shows the ability to play well against zone run plays. On plays where offensive linemen are trying to block him, he does a good job of maintaining leverage and prevents the offensive lineman from being able to reach-block him and place an effective block. Asa pass rusher, Roy uses his athleticism to be effective on twists and stunts. Roy is a fluid mover and can flip his hips and get into tight spaces to provide penetration. Roy also does a good job in one-on-one situations attacking the edges of offensive linemen to attack an opening to get pressure on the quarterback.

Shepherd quarterback Tyson Bagent projects as a developmental quarterback at the pro level. He’s been superbly productive for the Rams program across his collegiate career, posting monster numbers and giving opposing defenses fits with his ability to get outside the pocket and attack all levels of the field.

Ben Sims projects as a traditional Y-tight end at the NFL level. The Baylor system has called upon him to serve as a key piece in the blocking front for the team’s rushing offense, putting him on the frontside to seal the edge for outside runs and charging him with creating either horizontal or vertical push and softening edges.

What do you think?

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