The 2022 NFL Draft preparation is in full swing, and last week was the official kickoff of the draft season. With the East-West Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowls now over, the attention to the draft if ramping up. When the NFL Scouting Combine rolls around March 1st, the draft talk will reach a fever pitch.
What parallels the draft season is the discussion surrounding mock drafts. These predictions are often wrong, but many view it as a way to get to learn prospects, and positions, which might be on their favorite team’s wish list during the draft.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have many key needs leading up to the start of the new league year, and the draft. Many of those needs reside on the offensive side of the ball, and this is why the latest mock draft by Jordan Reid of ESPN has the Steelers targeting two offensive players in his latest 2-round mock draft simulation.
Below you’ll see Round 1, where I also added who was off the board before the Steelers picked at No. 20. Take a look at the series of events, and who the Steelers ultimately chose with their first round selection:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
2. Detroit Lions - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
3. Houston Texans - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
4. New York Jets - Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
5. New York Giants - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
6. Carolina Panthers - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
7. New York Giants (via CHI) - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
8. Atlanta Falcons - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
9. Denver Broncos - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
10. New York Jets (via SEA) - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
11. Washington Commanders - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
12. Minnesota Vikings - David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
13. Cleveland Browns - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
14. Baltimore Ravens - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA) - Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via IND) - Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
18. New Orleans Saints - Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
19. Philadelphia Eagles - Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
One of the worst-kept secrets at the Senior Bowl was the Steelers’ desire to draft a quarterback to replace Ben Roethlisberger. During the second day of practices, coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert paced back and forth down the sideline in a downpour of rain getting an up-close view of prospects. Howell, who had 24 touchdown passes and nine picks in 2021, had several high moments at the Senior Bowl. The Steelers have shown in previous years that they aren’t afraid to trade up to acquire a player they really like, which means they are a team to watch if they don’t acquire a veteran signal-caller.
This isn’t the first mock draft which has the Steelers targeting a quarterback in Round 1, and it isn’t the first mock draft which has Pittsburgh choosing Howell with said pick. The Steelers’ scouting department has been doing their homework on Howell all season, and offseason, and he could be viewed as a viable long term option at quarterback.
There are those who disagree, so be sure to check out the scouting report on Howell below, via the Pro Football Network:
- Position: Quarterback
- School: North Carolina
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’0 1/4″
- Weight: 221
- Wingspan: 75 5/8″
- Arm: 31 1/8″
- Hand: 9 1/8″
Howell started the season as a leading contender for the QB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft class. While he hasn’t suffered the complete and utter collapse of contemporary Spencer Rattler, a difficult 2021 season has clouded his standing, which is truly saying something in this murkiest of quarterback classes.
That said, the North Carolina quarterback still possesses an NFL scouting report packed with pro potential. The Senior Bowl is going to be key to reigniting Howell’s draft stock. Removed from some of the mitigating circumstances that hobbled his season, he should be able to showcase some of the next-level potential that he possesses.
Howell is an intelligent, accurate quarterback who possesses an excellent arm. While he might not possess the same pure strength as Malik Willis or Desmond Ridder in this class, the North Carolina quarterback can still deliver a deep ball downfield. Furthermore, he’s showcased amazing zip on short to intermediate throws. He can fire the ball into his receivers with very little effort.
In this mock draft there are no trades, so the Steelers stay put with their Round 2 selection. They address another offensive need, this time along the offensive line. In Round 2 the Steelers select Daniel Faalele, offensive tackle out of the University of Minnesota.
Here is Reid’s analysis of the pick:
52. Pittsburgh Steelers - Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
When the Steelers were at their best, they took full control of the line of scrimmage. That hasn’t happened over the past few seasons, and Faalele could be an easy fit. A mammoth-sized prospect at 6-foot-8, 387 pounds, he moves like a much smaller player. He played right tackle for the Gophers, and he could swallow up edge rushers for Pittsburgh, turning a weakness into a strength.
The addition of Faalele, combined with Dan Moore Jr., heading into his second year after starting at left tackle for the vast majority of his rookie season, would give the Steelers both young bookend tackles, but also a pair of blockers who could anchor the line for years to come.
If you don’t know anything about Faalele, here is a scouting report on the offensive tackle, via the Pro Football Network:
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Minnesota
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’8 1/8″
- Weight: 387 pounds
- Wingspan: 86 1/4″
- Arm: 35 3/8″
- Hand: 11″
When the NFL Draft kicks off in April, it will be 20 years since the San Diego Chargers selected Matt Anderle in the sixth round. That’s so long ago that the Chargers don’t even reside in San Diego anymore. But, why is that important?
Well, Anderle is the last Minnesota OT drafted to the NFL. Before him, you had to go back to Jon Melander in 1990 and Todd Hallstrom in 1983 to find a Gophers tackle selected in the draft. Minnesota offensive tackles making it to the NFL are rare. But so is Faalele.
It would be remiss to begin Faalele’s scouting report anywhere other than his size. At 6’8″ and 387 pounds, there simply isn’t a bigger player in this 2022 NFL Draft class. These are verified Senior Bowl measurements, with Minnesota listing their OT at 6’9″. Unbelievably, Faalele has slimmed down, tipping the scales at 400 pounds at one point in his college career. He dwarves even the biggest men in the trenches.
Being this ginormous has its advantages as an offensive tackle. Pass rushers simply cannot run through him. He’s the epitome of an immovable object. Faalele is also too big for most pass rushers to merely run around. He’s too broad. Furthermore, he owns excellent functional length. Faalele’s arms measured in at 35 3/8″ at the Senior Bowl. Additionally, his wingspan is in excess of 86 inches.
What would you think about the Steelers bringing in this 2022 NFL Draft haul in Rounds 1 and 2? Would you be on board, or do you have some issues with the prediction? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers.