The combine is over, and the pro day circuit is complete.  That means its time for us to guess the Steelers first round pick in five tries.  This may be the most difficult year to predict what Pittsburgh will do in years..  There’s a new front office to deal with, along with a whole host of needs.  With all that in mind, let’s get to it:

1.  Brian Branch: S Alabama

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Steelers sent just about everyone to the Alabama pro day.  Included in that group was defensive backs coach Grady Brown.  Alabama has only three prospects with first round grades this year.  Two of them (Bryce Young, Will Anderson) will be gone in the top 5, leaving just Branch who could be available at 17.

Branch is more of a slot corner than a true safety, which happens to be a big need in the Steelers secondary.  His poor athletic testing and smaller size is cause for concern.  His tape and football IQ however,  is exactly the thing this team looks for.

2. Joey Porter Jr.: CB Penn St.

If there was ever a player who would break the near fifteen year run of the Steelers having to have Tomlin and the GM attend a first round pick’s pro day, it is Joey Porter Jr.  The connections between the two sides are undeniable.  Of course there’s the obvious fact that his father played and coached with the Steelers under Tomlin.  Porter is also a long athletic corner, which would be a welcomed addition to the Steelers corner room.  Porter has to be the favorite to be the pick if he lasts until 17.

3.  Broderick Jones: OT Georgia

There is real doubt that Broderick Jones would last long enough to be the Steelers first round pick.  If he does however, the Steelers would sprint to turn that card in.  Jones is a massive (6’5” 312lbs) tackle who’s athletic and skilled.  He’s pretty much the consensus number two tackle in this class behind Ohio State’s Paris Johnson.  If the board falls right, Pittsburgh could have another key piece in this offensive line retooling.

4.  Nolan Smith: LB Georgia

We had Nolan Smith as our first round pick in our mock draft 3.0, and we still believe he could be in play. Steelers mock draft 3.0: Post Combine

Smith played as an edge rusher at Georgia, but many believe he will move to off the ball linebacker in the NFL.  His elite athleticism would give the Steelers something the really lack at inside linebacker.  The recent signings of Cole Holcomb, and Elandon Roberts make this choice a little less likely.  There is  very likely scenario where all the top tackles and corners are gone by the time 17 rolls around.  If that happens, Pittsburgh could very well could turn to Nolan Smith.

5.  Bryan Bresee DT Clemson:

The Clemson pro-day seems so long ago we forget how much interest was paid to Brian Bresee.  Pittsburgh sent a large contingent to Clemson, including defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.  Even with the re-signing of Larry Ogunjobi the Steelers are dangerously thin at defensive tackle.  They really need an infusion of young high end talent at that position.  Bresee is a tough evaluation because of his so-so 2022 season.  Injuries, and the tragic death of his sister made this past season a difficult one.  His tape in 2020 is that of an elite prospect however. It would be a slight gamble at 17, but one that could pay huge dividends for Pittsburgh.