2023 NFL Re-Draft shows what could have been with the Steelers
The 2024 NFL Draft is still months away, and the 2023 season is concluding this Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers face off in the Super Bowl.
While 30 of the 32 teams are in full offseason mode, it’s always a fun exercise to look back and see what could have been, in terms of roster building.
This is when places like ESPN do things like re-drafts, and they did just that after the 2023 draft.
Who did the Steelers end up with, and where did their actual Top 3 picks last year end up? Let’s take a look…
Actual Pick: OT Broderick Jones
Re-Draft: Broderick Jones to the New York Jets Pick No. 15
Steelers Re-Draft Pick: Safety, Brian Branch
“The Steelers didn’t trade up in this exercise, so offensive tackle Broderick Jones wasn’t an option. My pick came down to Branch and cornerback Joey Porter Jr., and strong cases could be made for either. I took a gamble that Porter would be available in the second round in this re-draft, and it didn’t pay off. Branch, though, would give the Steelers a game-changing safety to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick. The team battled with a lack of safety depth throughout the season, and Branch would’ve gone a long way toward solving that.”
It seems fitting the Jets would be able to draft Jones in this re-draft, this after the Patriots allowed the Steelers to leap-frog the Jets to take him in the actual 2023 NFL Draft. With the Steelers natural No. 17 they took a player who many thought wouldn’t cut it in the NFL. A player who didn’t have a natural position in Brian Branch out of Alabama; however, Branch was a playmaker and difference maker for the Lions in 2023. He certainly could have aided the Steelers secondary for years to come.
Actual Pick: CB Joey Porter Jr. / DT Keeanu Benton
Re-Draft: Joey Porter Jr. to the Detroit Lions Pick No. 18
Re-Draft Pick: Keeanu Benton pick No. 32
“The Steelers selected Benton at No. 49 overall in the real draft, but he almost certainly wouldn’t be on the board by that pick this time around. He was solid as a rookie and gave the defensive line a huge lift when Cameron Heyward missed time because of a groin injury. Benton had a sack, eight quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. As a force in the run defense, he looks to be the future of the Steelers’ nose tackle position.”
Just as it seemed fitting the Jets were able to draft Broderick Jones, it just seemed like the Steelers would end up with Keeanu Benton no matter what. And this re-draft certainly would follow that line of thinking with the team getting Benton at pick No. 32, this after Joey Porter Jr. went to the Lions at 18th overall. Benton has the look of a Steelers player, and this just emphasizes that fact.
Re-Draft Pick: John Michael Schmitz Jr. pick No. 49
“Center will undoubtedly be high on the Steelers’ list of 2024 priorities to address, and drafting Schmitz in 2023 would’ve given them an option behind Mason Cole. Though a veteran with a strong leadership presence on the offensive line and in the locker room, Cole struggled to be consistent in his snaps. The Steelers need an upgrade at the position to solidify the line, and Schmitz, who started 13 games as a rookie, showed a lot of promise.”
The Steelers grabbing a center with the second of their 2nd Round picks would have been something great to see, but this is where the Steelers took Benton in the real draft. Nonetheless, if we are living in this hindsight reality, you can imagine what the offensive line might have been with JMS at center instead of the stop-gap, Mason Cole.
If the 2023 NFL Draft would have played out this way, what would you have thought? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2024 offseason.