After three days full of surprises, the 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the books. With 259 players hearing their names called, they now know where they will start their professional careers in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers have high expectations for 2023 after missing out on the playoffs last season, which means their draft picks gained even more attention.
This past year marked the start of a new era for the Steelers. For the first time since 2004, they were without longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who retired before the 2022 season. Pittsburgh was also without general manager Kevin Colbert as he stepped down following 22 years with the organization.
Despite many big changes, Pittsburgh was just one win away from making it to the playoffs. The team finished the season 9-8 and with the No. 8 seed in the AFC, losing to the Miami Dolphins in a tiebreaker.
With the Steelers' hopes of returning to the postseason, the rookies joining the franchise might need to contribute right away. The team made a total of seven selections in the draft, including one in the first round and three on Day 2.
With that being said, let's meet the rookies from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 NFL Draft class.
1st round, No. 14 overall: Broderick Jones, OT – Georgia
After trading up to secure the No. 14 overall pick in the first round, the Steelers selected Broderick Jones out of Georgia. He is the first offensive tackle Pittsburgh has drafted in the first round since Jamain Stephens in 1996.
Jones spent three seasons with the Bulldogs, winning back-to-back national championships in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. This past year, his first as a full-time starter, Jones allowed just seven hurries, two quarterback hits and zero sacks in 470 pass-blocking snaps, earning First Team All-SEC honors. With his help on the left side of the line, the Bulldogs averaged 501.1 total yards of offense per game, the fifth-best mark in the nation.
Since quarterback Kenny Pickett is entering his second season in the league, the Steelers need to know if he can be their franchise quarterback going forward. Now with Jones protecting the him, Pittsburgh might have the foundation of its offense in place.
2nd round, No. 32 overall: Joey Porter Jr., CB – Penn State
Another area the Steelers needed to address in the draft was the secondary. One of the team's main losses this offseason was cornerback Cameron Sutton leaving for the Detroit Lions. Pittsburgh chose Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State to help offset Sutton's departure, snapping him up with the first pick of the second round.
In 2022, Porter had 27 total tackles and eight pass breakups for the Nittany Lions. It is worth noting he missed three games due to injuries and opted out of the Rose Bowl.
Porter Jr. earned First Team All-Big Ten honors during his last season in State College, marking the third year in a row he earned an All-Conference nod. In 2020 and 2021, he was named Third Team All-Big Ten.
Most importantly, his father, Joey Porter, is a Steelers icon who starred at outside linebacker for the team from 1999 to 2006. In that period, he helped lead Pittsburgh to a win in Super Bowl XL and earned five All-Pro and four Pro Bowl selections. Additionally, Porter served as a defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach for his former team from from 2014 to 2018.
2nd round, No. 49 overall: Keeanu Benton, NT – Wisconsin
With the No. 49 overall pick, the team's second on Day 2, the Steelers went defense once again. They ended up bringing in nose tackle Keeanu Benton out of Wisconsin.
This past season, he had 36 tackles with 20 of them being solo, 10 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. All those numbers were the best of his collegiate career. Benton was a Third-team All-Big Ten member in 2022 and a Second Team selection in the previous year.
3rd round, No. 93 overall: Darnell Washington, TE – Georgia
In the third round, Pittsburgh opted to go with one of Jones' teammates in Georgia. The Steelers selected tight end Darnell Washington with the No. 93 overall pick.
In his third and final season with the Bulldogs, Washington recorded 28 catches for 454 yards and two touchdowns. He ended up playing an important role as Georgia won back-to-back national championships, getting named Second Team All-SEC last season.
Washington was considered a potential first-round pick in some mock drafts. However, his injury history played a role in his slide to the third round, where the Steelers got a steal.
4th round, No. 132 overall: Nick Herbig, LB – Wisconsin
Once again, Pittsburgh's front office went with a previous pick's college teammate. This time, the Steelers went with another Wisconsin Badger in linebacker Nick Herbig with the No. 132 overall pick in the fourth round.
In his final year in college, Herbig registered 47 total tackles, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Most importantly, he recorded 11 sacks, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2022.
7th round, No. 241 overall: Cory Trice, CB – Purdue
In the seventh round, the Steelers went with another cornerback. In addition to Porter Jr., the team selected Cory Trice out of Purdue with the No. 241 overall pick.
Playing his fifth year with the Boilermakers, Trice had 34 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions, including a pick-six against Indiana. He totaled five interceptions and two touchdowns in his career at Purdue.
7th round, No. 251 overall: Spencer Anderson, OL – Maryland
To wrap up its 2023 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh chose offensive lineman Spencer Anderson out of Maryland with the No. 251 overall pick.
He ended his collegiate career by starting 31 consecutive games for the Terrapins across multiple positions along the offensive line. Anderson had the third-highest pass-blocking grade of any Big Ten guard with over 800 snaps this past season at 78.4.