Steelers ignore OL again in latest two-round 2023 NFL mock draft

Fans would like to see the Pittsburgh Steelers invest in the offensive line, but here’s why they target defense in the latest 2023 NFL mock draft.

After Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement at the end of the 2021 season, there was little hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers were finally going to address the offensive line in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

As we predicted, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert went with a quarterback in the first round of the draft this past April. They followed up the Kenny Pickett selection by giving him someone to throw the ball to in WR George Pickens.

If flashy selections are what you want, the Steelers never fail to disappoint. Unfortunately, it’s now been over a decade since Pittsburgh selected an offensive lineman in the first or second round of the NFL Draft… and it’s really starting to show.

Back when Mike Munchak was the OL coach, the team could get away with this. The Steelers already had some building blocks in place with Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Munchak took care of the rest with his ability to coach up raw players like Kelvin Beachum and Alejandro Villanueva over the years.

Sadly, those days are in the rearview mirror, and fans shouldn’t be expecting that type of success on the OL moving forward — not without some significant investments at least.

Recently, Pro Football Network released their two-round 2023 NFL mock draft. To the dismay of fans, they didn’t have the Pittsburgh Steelers taking an offensive lineman in the first two rounds of the draft. Instead, PFN’s Ian Cummings had them going with LB Noah Sewell in the first round and DT Siaki Ika in the second.

Sewell, the little brother of Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell, is an impressive and productive linebacker for Oregon. While taking a Pac-12 player in the first round would be out of the norm for the Steelers (based on historic trends) things could change with new GM Omar Khan at the helm.

Meanwhile, Ika is a mammoth defensive tackle who can dominate at the point of attack. Both players would no doubt help turn around a run defense that was ranked the worst in the league in both yards surrendered and yards allowed per attempt in 2021.

Steelers need to focus on the OL

Sadly, devoting these two high draft picks to the defensive side of the ball means that the offensive line would once again be ignored. Though the Steelers made some effort to improve this unit in the offseason by adding James Daniels and Mason Cole, I have a feeling it’s going to take much more than these few mid-level free agent signings to yield the results we all hope for.

The Steelers haven’t taken an offensive lineman before the third round in an NFL Draft since doubling up on David DeCastro and Mike Adams all the way back in 2012.

What’s even more astounding is that Pittsburgh currently has the longest drought without taking an offensive tackle in the first round: 26 years. The last time they did so was when they selected Jamain Stephens with the 29th pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, via Pro Football Reference.

With the importance of the offensive tackle position to a high-powered offense in today’s NFL, this is a streak that needs to end very soon.

Obviously, we hope that the Steelers offensive line will be improved this year, but it’s time to start investing resources into the OL again after a decade of ignoring one of the most important positional groups on the team.