With the 2022 NFL Draft just two weeks away, the Pittsburgh Steelers are struggling to put together every single piece of information they can find about this year’s crop of quarterbacks. If you’ve been following us here at BTSC, you’ve probably seen that almost every quarterback prospect with a pulse has been picked up for a Top 30 interview or has met the Steelers in some capacity.
There has been no shortage of speculation from both experts and fans as to what signal calls the team could be interested in. The only thing this group of quarterbacks really lacks is a truly elite prospect, but there are plenty of tools to work with, which may give rise to an early selection on draft weekend.
But which of these young guys has the team ready to take that step? Let’s examine the six best prospects for the 2022 class and look at the likelihood that each one could hear their name called by the Steelers, if available, as well as when that call may be.
Note: Prospects are listed based on estimated availability.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Option: High, round 1
The Steelers, shaking hands with their fascination with a specific lead, are nothing new, and the team has often been linked with the athletic Liberty standout since the Senior Bowl. Willis is considered to be the highest prospect at quarterback position in this draft, thanks to his rocket-launching right arm and excellent running ability. For the Steelers, he would be an exciting addition as the potential quarterback of the future, while Mitch Trubisky holds the fort for a year. Pittsburgh’s interest in Willis could cause a Draft Day deal to move up and secure their guy, but they’re more likely to wait and hope that his inconsistent accuracy and limited experience cause a small drop in their No. 20 lap. .
Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Option: Low, round 1
This may surprise some, but the big question when it comes to Pickett is, “What is he bringing to the quarterback room that Mitch Trubisky is not already doing?” They are both prototypical quarterbacks with good athletics, but neither of them possesses elite arm talent, and both were essentially a year’s marvels before declaring themselves drafters. Mel Kiper of ESPN recently mocked Pickett for Pittsburgh, but said his ceiling is like a Derek Carr and his floor is an Andy Dalton. It sounds very Trubisky-like to me, which is why I see the Steelers aiming for signal callers other than the hometown hero.
Desmond Knight, Cincinnati
Option: Medium, late round 1 – early round 2
It is he with whom things could go crazy. Knight is almost certainly gone before the Steelers reach their second pick of 52 overall. I see the team potentially taking three different approaches compared to the athletic Cincinnati quarterback. One, the Steelers just go ahead and take him at 20, knowing it’s a range, but realizing he will not be there when it’s their turn again. Second, the Steelers switch back with a WR-needed team (KC, GB) and select Knight at the back of 1. round while adding an extra choice or two. Three, they become Best Player Available (BPA) at 20 and then switch up from 2:52 to pick Knight at the top of round 2. Method two is definitely the most preferred, in my opinion. However, one approach seems most likely based on Steelers recent draft trends.
Matt Corral, Ole frk
Option: Very Low, round 2
Despite attending Corral’s Pro Day and having him for a Pre-Draft visit, I’m not sold on Steelers interest in Ole Miss quarterback. It seems more like just doing their due diligence. Yes, Corral’s mobility fits in with offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system, and he has good leadership skills, but the measurable ones are not what the Steelers traditionally look for in the position. I get the feeling it will play a role in the team’s decision making process. Some have compared the Corral to a more athletic Drew Brees, but perhaps the compet is actually closer to a Baker Mayfield, and I guess the Steelers will pass.
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Option: Low, round 2
The Steelers have shown a little more interest in Howell than I would have expected given the measurable and strong Mayfield comps from national experts. Here’s the thing with Howell: he has plenty of college experience and exhibits better arm talent than Corral or Pickett. Much like Corral, Howell’s size may be the main impediment to his potential choice, as well as the fact that the Steelers probably like Willis and Knight more. If the Steelers are completely set on taking a quarterback, they will put themselves in position to take one of those two players. Although I think there’s a chance he could be selected as a 52 – year – old if he falls there and Pittsburgh goes a different direction in Round 1, I do not expect the team to take a step to get him ahead of schedule.
Carson Strong, Nevada
Option: High, round 2 or 3
Aside from Willis, this is the prospect I could see that the Steelers will most likely hand over the card for if he is available to them either 2:52 or 3:84. If they meet other needs with their first one or two choices, it makes a lot of sense. Strong has a massive arm and enough pocket mobility to make it work in a Matt Canada system, though injury history is a concern. In addition, he definitely measures himself as a prototypical Steelers quarterback. Based on what happens in the late 1st or early 2nd round with other QB-needing teams, the Steelers could choose to go ahead and snatch him up in Round 2 if there is a run on the position. If they can try to wait until round 3, where most of these teams are apparently put in position. The later in the draft we go, the less it would cost the Steelers to move up after a player they like. It should be attractive to Kevin Colbert and coach Tomlin.
Who will the Steelers take in the three-day selection process? Tell us your views in the comments section. Do not forget to check out Steelers Draft Fix podcast with myself and Andrew Wilbar, where we break down everything you need to know for the 2022 NFL Draft from a Steelers perspective.
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