Steelers projected to land a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft -

Steelers projected to land a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly made the playoffs in 2021, but here’s why ESPN projects them to land a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

Top-10 draft capital is a good thing, but how it’s usually obtained is less than desirable. The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had a top-10 pick is when they traded up for Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Prior to that, Pittsburgh didn’t have a pick inside the top-10 since Bill Cowher was the head coach and the Steelers selected Plaxico Burress with the 8th overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Since 1989, Steelers fans have only had the excitement of looking forward to drafting inside the top-10 twice. This is a good thing.

Recently, ESPN’s Seth Walder and NFL Nation released an article projecting which teams would land each of the top-10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Surprisingly, not only did they have the Steelers landing a top-10 pick, but they also had them finishing as the sixth-worst team in the league.

Walder had the Jets, Bears, Texans, Jaguars, and Falcons earning the top-5 picks in next year’s draft, respectively. However, it’s a bit discouraging to see the Steelers fall in line just after this group of pedestrian franchises.

Earning the sixth overall pick would likely mean that the 2022 season was a catastrophe and that big changes need to occur to get this team competitive once again. Walder predicts that Pittsburgh has a 53.5 percent chance of earning a top-10 pick and a 6.5 percent chance of earning the very top pick in the NFL Draft — a percentage that seems concerningly high, considering there are 32 teams in the NFL.

His reasoning behind this essentially points to the shaky quarterback situation, as Walder doesn’t believe that any of Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks could be high performers in 2022.

Steelers shouldn’t be on this list

It’s almost embarrassing that this ESPN panel has the Steelers finishing with a worse record than the dismal Carolina Panthers next season — a team with limited 2022 draft capital that failed to improve their roster on paper.

Additionally, Walder and NFL Nation have the Steelers finishing worse than the Lions, Seahawks, and Giants to round out the list.

If this comes to fruition, it would be an utter embarrassment to one of the most prestigious franchises in football. It would also be the first time in Mike Tomlin’s 15-year career as a head coach that he finished with a record below .500.

While I can see a scenario in which they finish last in the AFC North this year, I cannot see them finishing as the sixth-worst team in the league. According to standings from last season, this would give them a record of roughly 5-12 or 6-11. They won’t be this far below .500 (if they are at all).

Again, it’s important to consider the standard this team and the Rooney family hold themselves to. While they may not be as talented as they’ve been in years past, earning the 6th overall pick would be the lowest selection they’ve had since taking Terry Bradshaw with the 1st overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Reference.

In reality, I think it’s much safer to assume that the Steelers finish in the middle of the pack somewhere — perhaps with an 8-9 or 9-8 record. While there are plenty of questions at the quarterback position (and it does matter how the QB performs), the roster is notably stronger across the board on paper, and the defense should be improved from a season ago.

I know that Walder and company have their reasoning for the Steelers finishing as a bottom-six team in the NFL next season, but I would be floored if that actually happens. It may be very hard to steal wins in a stacked AFC North, but I think Pittsburgh puts up a much better fight than ESPN is projecting them to.

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