We’ve heard all the familiar names the Steelers could pick in the first round. It’s the same 5 or 6 players in every mock draft, and every draft article involving Pittsburgh. So we decided to dig a little deeper, and find some off the beaten path players. Here are our five surprise picks the Steelers could take in the first round:
1. Nolan Smith: LB – Georgia
We have pushed for this idea since the combine took place. Steelers mock draft 3.0: Post Combine
You could not help but be impressed with this player after listening to his press conference at Indianapolis. Then there’s the way he tested…..whew. This is an elite athlete with a football player’s mentality, We can easily see Mike Tomlin absolutely falling in love with Nolan Smith. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on in round one.
2. Anton Harrison: OT – Oklahoma
Anton Harrison is a name we haven’t talked about much through the draft process. He may be the last tackle standing when the Steelers pick at 17 however. Harrison did have a pre-draft visit, so he is definitely on the team’s radar. If Pittsburgh is determined to get a tackle, Anton Harrison could be the guy.
3. Lukas Van Ness: Edge – Iowa
Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin took a strange trip through Iowa in their pro-day travels. Iowa and Iowa St. are not schools that are on the Steelers usual pro-day itinerary. So we have to assume the couple of players at those schools who are first round caliber are definitely possibilities at pick 17.
Lukas Van Ness is a bit of a tweener for the type of defense the Steelers like to play. At 6’5” and 272 lbs he’s a little big to play outside linebacker. He’d need to put on about 20 to 30 pounds to be an ideal defensive end in the 3/4 system. Having said all that, Van Ness still might have enough overall talent to have the Steelers intrigued. Stay tuned on this player.
4. Tyrique Stevenson: CB – Miami
The ghost of Artie Burns may be still fresh in the Steelers fans memories. However there is a very real possibility that the top four corners are off the board at 17, leaving Pittsburgh with a dilemma. As deep as this position is, do they risk waiting too long to get their corner? There already have been reports linking Stevenson to the Steelers in round one. https://twitter.com/aaronwilson_nfl/status/1646911017782243328?s=61
5. Will McDonald: EDGE – Iowa St.
Speaking of that unusual trip through Iowa, Will McDonald is the only first round prospect at Iowa State. Therefore he is the only reason for Tomlin and Khan to make a special trip to that school. Edge rusher is a low key serious need for this team. They currently have zero depth at the position, and Alex Highsmith is about to become a very expensive free agent after the 2023 season. Daniel Jeremiah has McDonald ranked 25th overall in his latest top 150, meaning 17 is not all that big a stretch. https://www.nfl.com/news/daniel-jeremiah-s-top-150-prospects-in-the-2023-nfl-draft-class