The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason, and with free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2021 roster, and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. With the NFL combine this week, and player pro days in the coming month, there will hopefully be more information in regards to draft prospects this year.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available, rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest one-round mock draft by CBSSports.com, they have the Steelers adding to the quarterback position. With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers only having one quarterback under contract, may mocks are suggesting it is what the Steelers will do. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 20th pick:
20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Sam Howell | QB | North Carolina | Junior |
Being somewhat early in the draft process, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Howell according to thedraftnetwork.com:
After a high school career that saw Sam Howell set the North Carolina record for total yards with 17,036, the highly-touted recruit took his talents to Chapel Hill, flipping from his original commitment to Florida State. Not only was Howell an outstanding high school quarterback, but he was also an all-state baseball player. Howell immediately became the Tar Heels’ starting quarterback as a true freshman and started all but one game since he stepped foot on campus. Howell is an incredibly accomplished quarterback that quickly became one of the ACC’s top passers. Howell is an accurate quarterback with good arm strength and has developed into an outstanding runner where his vision and contact balance shine. He has mostly good mechanics and excels with touch throws between zones. Despite playing in a spread offense, Howell has shown plenty of anticipatory throws, second-window throws, and the ability to work full-field progressions. He adjusted well to a completely new supporting cast around him in 2021, which included an increased emphasis on weaponizing his legs which, in my opinion, makes him even more appealing as a prospect. Considering the structure of the North Carolina offense that features static alignments, binary reads, and plenty of manufactured throws, there is an acclimation period ahead for Howell as he adjusts to the next level which should temper any thought that he will be a day-one NFL starter. With a sound infrastructure around him, I believe Howell has a chance to be a productive starting quarterback in the NFL, although I have little conviction that he actually profiles as a difference-maker at the position. Outside of the schematic adjustment ahead for Howell, my concerns for him when projecting him to the next level stem from instances where he can unravel on tape, his average pocket manipulation skills, and an overall modest package of physical traits. A commitment to Howell as a franchise quarterback must come with an understanding that a strong remainder of the team with a trusted veteran in the room is likely to be required for success.
Ideal Role: Developmental starting quarterback
Scheme Fit: Spread
For all you who are finding yourself diving more into draft analysis, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Howell with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group or do you believe he will not be available when the Steelers make their pick?
Personally, I’m still in the camp of the Steelers needing to build everything else on the team before they dive headfirst into the quarterback position. If they did, I definitely don’t want them trading away a lot of assets in order to move up to get the player they like. While some believe Sam Howell is a likely option for the Steelers to take, I am not getting very excited about this being the pick at this time. But as this process goes on, perhaps additional information could change my mind.