Steelers set to land top-10 pick in 2023 NFL Draft
The Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly made the playoffs in 2021, but here’s why ESPN projects them to land a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The top 10 tentative capital is great, but the way it’s usually earned is less than desirable. The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had a top-10 pick was when they traded Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Prior to that, Pittsburgh did not have a top 10 pick since Bill Cowher was the head coach and the Steelers selected Plaxico Burress with the 8th overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Since 1989, Steelers fans have had nothing but excitement to look forward to getting into the top 10 twice. That’s a good thing.
Walder led the Jets, Bears, Texans, Jaguars and Falcons to the top 5 picks respectively in next year’s draft. However, it’s a little disheartening to see the Steelers lining up right after this group of pedestrian franchises.
Earning the sixth overall pick would likely mean the 2022 season has been a disaster and big changes need to happen for this team to be competitive again. Walder predicts that Pittsburgh has a 53.5% chance of earning a top-10 pick and a 6.5% chance of earning the first-ever NFL Draft pick — a percentage that seems ominous, given that there are has 32 teams in the NFL.
His reasoning behind that basically points to the quarterback’s fragile situation, as Walder doesn’t think any of Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks can perform very well in 2022.
The Steelers shouldn’t be on this list
It’s almost embarrassing that this ESPN panel has the Steelers finishing with a worse record than the dismal Carolina Panthers next season — a team with limited draft capital in 2022 that failed to improve its roster on paper.
Additionally, Walder and NFL Nation have the Steelers finishing worse than the Lions, Seahawks and Giants to round out the roster.
If that comes to fruition, it would be a complete embarrassment for one of football’s most prestigious franchises. It would also be the first time in Mike Tomlin’s 15-year career as a head coach that he finished with a record below .500.
While I can see a scenario in which they finish last in the AFC North this year, I don’t see them finishing as the sixth worst team in the league. Based on last season’s standings, that would give them a record of around 5-12 or 6-11. They won’t be that far below 0.500 (if they are at all).
Again, it’s important to consider the standard to which this team and the Rooney family hold themselves. While they may not be as talented as they have been in years past, earning the 6th overall pick would be the lowest selection they’ve had since taking on Terry Bradshaw with the 1st overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Reference. .
In reality, I think it’s much safer to assume the Steelers finish somewhere in the middle of the pack – maybe with an 8-9 or 9-8 record. Although there are many questions at quarterback (and there Is regardless of the QB’s performance), the roster is significantly stronger across the board on paper, and the defense should be improved from a season ago.
I know Walder and company have their reasoning for the Steelers to finish in the NFL’s bottom six next season, but I’d be amazed if that actually happened. It can be very difficult to steal wins in a stacked AFC North, but I think Pittsburgh is fighting a lot better than ESPN is projecting.