The 2023 NFL Draft has been completed, and each team made plenty of picks over the course of the three days. Some of those picks, the players they drafted, were steals where they got them and are going to be major impact players for the team. This series will go over each team’s steal of the draft, with today being the AFC North!
Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Battle, Safety, Alabama
Defense was the aim for the Bengals to start the draft, and in the third round got a steal to add to the secondary. After losing both Jessie Bates and Von Bell, the Bengals added Nick Scott in free agency to go with Dax Hill to be the new starting duo, or so that would’ve been the case before the draft. Jordan Battle ended up being there in the third round, and has the potential to be a day one starter for the team. He makes major plays in the middle of the field with how he comes downhill quickly and wraps up his tackles with a devastating hit. With Battle also comes versatility as he played in the box, in the slot, and even occasionally at cornerback and on the defensive line. That will allow Lou Anarumo to throw in new looks on defense, and be able to rely on Battle. In college, Battle allowed only 607 yards and five touchdowns over 74 receptions, while securing six interceptions. Between his underrated speed, and reaction ability from when he recognizes plays, he is valuable not only against the pass, but the run as well. Battle is going to prove to be a major steal over his career.
Baltimore Ravens: Andrew Vorhees, Guard, USC
Had it not been for his ACL injury he suffered at the NFL Combine, Vorhees had massive potential to be selected inside the top 50 picks. This is a future pick by the Ravens, as Vorhees won’t be able to play until 2024, but can compete for a starting job right away when possible. Vorhees brings versatility, having played right guard, left guard, right tackle, and left tackle at USC. Over six seasons, he only allowed 11 sacks, and 84 total pressures. Where he wins is with his consistent hand placement to latch onto defenders and pair that with an excellent anchor. This paired with his physical mindset also led to him dominating as a run blocker to easily clear running lanes. It won’t take long for Vorhees to prove he shouldn’t have fallen to the seventh round.
Cleveland Browns: Cedric Tillman, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
The Browns first pick didn’t come until the third round, but when it did, they got a steal with it. Before being limited throughout the season with an ankle injury, Tillman was well on his way to a second straight 1,000-plus yard season. Over six games, he has 417 yards, averaging 11.3 per reception. Between 2021 and 2022 he had a total of 1,495 yards, 427 came after the catch, and 15 touchdowns. Tillman will add a playmaker outside of Amari Cooper to the receiver room with how well he tracks the ball and uses his large catch radius to constantly be a threat at all three levels. With the other starting receivers being Elijah Moore and Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tillman adds massive value to the team and could push for the starting job.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cory Trice, Cornerback, Purdue
Trice was a consensus mid-round player, but ended up falling all the way to the seventh, where the Steelers couldn’t pass him up. After allowing 3,779 passing yards and 29 touchdowns over 332 completions, the Steelers needed to make upgrades in their secondary. They added Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan in free agency, and drafted Joey Porter Jr. early in the draft, but to pair with Porter they got Trice to make a future young duo. In 2022, Trice allowed only 21 receptions over 44 targets for 220 yards and one touchdown while creating nine pass breakups. He has been able to succeed with how he stays hip with receivers downfield and effectively uses his length to disrupt passing lanes or wrap up tackles. Again, Trice may not be a starter to begin, but he can become one down the line even after being selected in the seventh round.
For more NFL content, check out the links below!
2023 NFL Draft Steals: NFC East Division
2023 NFL Draft Steals: AFC East Division