NFL draft analyst says Steelers would take DT Mazi Smith in 1st round

By Curt Popejoy

When it comes to the NFL draft, few guys provide the insight that Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network does. So, when he talks about where prospects could land, it makes sense to pay attention. Pauline went over the Michigan pro day and talked about the connection between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith.

Here is what Pauline said about the Steelers possibly taking Smith in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft:

The sense I’m getting is the Steelers would select Smith over Bryan Breese of Clemson if, in fact, it is a battle between the two at pick No. 17. Pittsburgh would prefer Smith’s rough-and-tumble style over the finesse Breese brings.

This defensive tackle class is a very diverse group, with each of the top five or six players offering very different skill sets. In terms of massive interior guys, it is essentially Smith and Baylor’s Siaki Ika surrounded by smaller guys who fit other teams’ needs much better.

Is 17 too early for Smith? Maybe but if the Steelers think he can come in and contribute at a high level right away, better to take him at 17 than miss him at 32.