Do you know who Will Anderson Jr. is?
I know who he is now. He’s an edge rusher from Alabama and is projected to be one of the top prospects—perhaps, the top prospect—in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Why would I know something so intimate about someone I’ve never met? Why would I know about a random college kid’s potential career path months before he even goes on his first job search?
Because the Steelers are really bad in 2022, at least they were up until Sunday when they knocked off the Saints at Acrisure Stadium. Is Pittsburgh (3-6) still a horrible football team? Probably, but I still want to see the Steelers go on a run and tally many victories over the next eight weeks.
But if the Steelers, who clearly need a lot of work and retooling to become an actual contender again, win many games down the stretch, won’t that give the fans false hope? I mean, even if they do somehow sneak into the playoffs, won’t they just get their butts handed to them?
Yes, but I want that false hope. I want to believe. I want to have something to look forward to every week. I want to envision a January filled with Steelers’ postseason success.
It might be a pipedream and foolish, but it beats the heck out of the November draft talk that began to ramp up seconds after the Steelers were dismantled in Philadelphia on October 30.
The November draft talk is what led me to research Will Anderson Jr. Why? Because someone asked me about him on a recent podcast. It went something like this, “Tony, what do you think about Will Anderson?” In my head, I was thinking, “What does MacGyver have to do with this?” But the person was obviously referring to the aforementioned stellar draft prospect from Alabama.
I’m not going to lie, when I realized I was fielding questions about the 2023 NFL Draft in November of 2022, a chill came over my body, and I became a bit depressed. Maybe it was PTSD, but at that moment, I had a flashback to many past Januarys when I’d log on to Behind the Steel Curtain’s editorial page to write an article that had to do with a Steelers’ season that had just come to an end and short of the Super Bowl. That was bad enough, but what made matters worse at that moment was seeing that a fellow BTSC writer had already gotten to work on a mock draft and/or big board.
A mock draft in January is like snow in January. It’s a reminder that we have a long way to go before spring and the end of mock drafts/snow.
Anyway, I know that the Steelers have a lot of draft needs, but I don’t want to talk about them in November. I don’t want to speculate on draft positioning before I even stuff myself with Thanksgiving dinner and the subsequent leftovers. I refuse to have a weekly debate—even in my own head—about whether or not it’s best for the Steelers to lose an upcoming game before they’re officially eliminated from postseason contention.
I want to do what I always do—what my internal clock has conditioned me to do—and that’s to wait until the very last minute to focus my attention on the next NFL Draft.
I know what you’re going to say: Finish middle. Draft middle. Stay middle.
Maybe, but cling to playoff hope. Stay in the race until the very end. Stave off draft talk until January.
That’s a much better formula.