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2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers go with an unexpected quarterback

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers look past a number of options to grab a player many have as a second-round pick.

Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason, and with free agency kicking off today, 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 Scouting Combine behind us, and player pro days ongoing, there already seems to 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 addressing the quarterback position in an unexpected way. With several other options at the position available to the Steelers, they pull the trigger on someone they think is the next guy up. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first pick, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the Steelers 20th pick:

20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Desmond Ridder | QB | Cincinnati | RS Senior |

Even with the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine behind us, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Ridder according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder is an accomplished quarterback that has been a big reason why the Bearcats have been such a prominent program in the college football scene despite not playing in a Power 5 conference. He enters the NFL after four seasons of starting experience and there’s no question he’s battle-tested and tough. Throughout his career, Ridder has demonstrated steady growth and improved in every season. When forecasting him to the next level, Ridder checks the boxes in terms of size, arm talent, mobility, and experience. His arm talent gives him access to the entire field and he is an exceptional runner where he showcases outstanding vision, athleticism, and the ability to break tackles. Because of his dual-threat ability, the entire playbook is available for Ridder’s offense because he doesn’t have any physical limitations. When it comes to areas in need of continued growth as Ridder enters the next level, his ball placement and decision making stand out. At this point, Ridder only has general accuracy. Despite some impressive flashes of accuracy, overall he is inconsistent. While Ridder is far from a turnover machine, his decisions with the ball can be overly aggressive and sometimes fail to account for leveraged defenders. In addition, Ridder has room to improve his mechanics so that his ball placement isn’t as impacted when he cannot achieve his desired sequencing. For a team in need of a franchise savior at the top of the draft, Ridder might not be the right target. For a team with a sound infrastructure and running game that can be relied upon, Ridder has the makings of a reliable starting quarterback with appealing physical traits, experience, and leadership qualities.

Ideal Role: Developmental starting quarterback

Scheme Fit: Run-first offense that features blended concepts in the passing game and involves the quarterback in the running game

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 Ridder 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 or too much of a reach when the Steelers make their pick?

Personally, I could get on board with this pick…in Round 2. Trying not to repeat any names already covered in this series, sometimes I have to look at lesser-known sources or an “outside of the box” mock draft. While I thought this fit in the latter category, it is actually the most recent of FIVE major mocks in the past week linking Ridder to the Steelers in the first round. Although I think Steelers fans could get on board with this pick in the second round, I don’t think they would pass up other names on the board in this specific mock in order to make the selection. Could you imagine Steelers Nation reaction if Kenny Pickett was still on the board at 20 and Roger Goodell announcing the selection of Desmond Ridder? This isn’t meant to be a knock on Ridder, and in no way am I saying he won’t be a quality NFL quarterback, I just don’t see him as the second quarterback off of the board in April, especially by the Steelers.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m ready for free agency to get going for the Steelers if for no other reason than to try to cross off a couple team needs heading into the draft.