Steelers general manager Omar Khan maneuvered his way through the 2023 NFL Draft to address Pittsburgh's biggest needs within its top two selections and added big, physical players who match Mike Tomlin's brand of football.
Social media was quick to laud Khan's decision-making during his first official draft as Steelers GM, and his aggressiveness invoked a nickname that is Tomlin-approved.
"What do they call him, the Khan Artist?" Tomlin said Saturday, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I like that. That's pretty good. It's a cool nickname."
Khan, sitting beside Tomlin, quickly brushed off the moniker.
"I've been called worse," Khan laughed.
Trading up three spots to select Georgia tackle Broderick Jones at No. 14 overall, Khan slyly got one spot ahead of the tackle-needy Jets to pick one of the top offensive tackle prospects of the draft. Remarkably, It was the first year the Steelers drafted a true offensive tackle in Round 1 since 1996, when they selected Jamain Stephens from North Carolina A&T with the 29th pick.
On Day 2, he resisted temptation of trading the first pick of the second round and drafted Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., son of longtime Steelers linebacker Joey Porter Sr., to not only address another need but bring in an instant hometown favorite. The opportunity to snag Porter Jr. wouldn't have happened had Khan not traded wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears midway through last season.
Khan's Friday remained busy -- he selected Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton at No. 49 overall before agreeing to trade back in the third round to recoup the fourth-rounder he initially gave up to draft Jones. Khan still managed to get Georgia tight end Darnell Washington despite having a lesser third-round pick.
Pittsburgh's first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft all ranked in the top 40 of Daniel Jeremiah's Top 150 prospect rankings of this year's class.
"It was a productive weekend," Khan said. "I really feel like we're a better football team today than we were at 7:59 p.m. Thursday. I think we're in a good place."
Along with several free-agent signings along the trenches and in the secondary this offseason, Khan has seemingly set the Steelers up for success in Year 2 of the Kenny Pickett era. Promoted in May of 2022, Khan, an understudy throughout Kevin Colbert's 21-year-long reign as Steelers GM, is giving Pittsburgh hope of sustained success after this weekend.
"It was awesome," he said of his first draft. "The journey of getting here has been great. I have a great group of people that I did this with, and they worked really hard for this organization. I don't know if it's hit me completely yet."