Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 Draft Target - Bryan Bresee

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It's been a busy offseason so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers, with free agency officially underway.  There have been a handful of signings, as well as departures, thus far, all of which have affected the depth of the roster.  I feel that no one particular signing has solidified a particular position group well enough that the team would alter their thought process for their first-round pick in this year's upcoming draft.

In my first part of this series, I discussed the Steelers considering Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with their first choice.  The Steelers ended up signing veteran Patrick Peterson after losing out on re-signing Cameron Sutton a few days.  Despite us predicting that move, overall, that swap is a downgrade with Peterson at the tail-end of his career, so cornerback still feels like a viable option.  

Also, the Steelers signed Isaac Seumalo, an offensive guard who started all 20 games for the Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia Eagles, building up the line even further.  However, offense is not the only line that needs beefed up for the Steelers. The defense could still use some help and although the Steelers just brought back defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi with a three-year deal, that doesn't necessarily mean they don't still need help on the defensive line.  

Captain Cam Heyward has been a stalwart for years but he is nearing the end of his career.  Therefore, I don't think it's out of the question that the Steelers look at a defensive lineman in the first round.  Luckily, there's a guy slotted to go around the 17th pick that fits their needs perfectly.

For my fellow Pitt fans, the name Bryan Bresee might ring a bell.  He was a defensive tackle for the Clemson Tigers for the past three seasons and he was well known nationally for wreaking havoc throughout the ACC.  He has all the intangibles that the Steelers look for in their defensive linemen, checking in at 6'5", 298 lbs. at the Combine.  He was a force to be reckoned with in college and someone I could certainly see the Steelers using their first-round pick on.

Watching the Steelers the past few seasons, it's been easy to see that a lot of their defensive success is predicated upon their pass rush.  This is most noticeable when linebacker T.J. Watt hasn't been able to play.  He is by far their best pass rusher, and it always feel like something is lacking in the pass rush when he is out.  

Now, T.J. Watts certainly don't grow on trees and he's a one-of-a-kind athlete.  But bolstering the pass rush to not revolve around one guy would be a nice feature and Bresee would go a long way in aiding that.  He was most effective with his pass rushing abilities at Clemson and he became a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Bresee was mainly featured as a defensive tackle at Clemson, but he features the athleticism to play all throughout the defensive line.  However, the Steelers' 3-4 defensive scheme plays perfectly into the skillset that made him so good in college.  There are a lot of positives between his gameplay and the Steelers' that would make this a great match.

Another thing he has going in his favor is that head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Omar Khan were in attendance for Clemson's pro day last week.  Since 2010, the Steelers have not selected someone in the first round that at least one of their head coach or GM did not attend the pro day of.  While that could change with Khan now as GM, I think it's a pretty telling sign that both were in attendance.

I mentioned the return of Ogunjobi but that doesn't solve the defensive line depth issues with one fell swoop.  The Steelers are likely to lose Chris Wormley and Tyson Alualu in free agency, making the depth at the position fairly thin.  Stephon Tuitt announced his leave from the NFL last season to many's surprise and his loss has been felt up front.  

Drafting Bresee would not only help with that but it would be great to allow someone with his talent to learn under Heyward for the last few years of his career.  I've always been a proponent of allowing a guy to develop under the tutelage of one of the best in the league and this would be the perfect opportunity for that.

As with any prospect, there are some downsides.  Bresee missed the majority of his sophomore season with a torn ACL and he has shown a propensity to injury over his career, making his health, or lack thereof, a bit of a red flag.  He has shown some weaknesses in the running game, which is something the Steelers greatly need.  Their rush defense has been a major problem the last few seasons and the brunt of that starts up front with the defensive line.  While that can be corrected over time, it's certainly something that could potentially steer the Steelers in a different direction on Draft Day.

I've discussed how I think the defense is the weakest link to this team and that shows with featuring another defensive player in this edition of the series.  While I do think cornerback is still their top priority in the draft, Bresee is definitely a route I could see the Steelers going.  Everything I've mentioned has him aligning pretty well with what the Steelers have done historically with the defensive line and what they want to do going forward.  

We're still a good bit away from the draft but be sure to keep an eye out on how things develop over the next weeks.  Between free agency signings and rumblings starting to spill out about draft targets (whether true or not), these could be fairly telling about what direction the Steelers are headed in Round 1 of the draft.