With the 2022 NFL Draft just two weeks away, the Pittsburgh Steelers are scrambling to put together every last piece of information they can find on this year’s crop of quarterbacks. If you have been keeping up with us here at BTSC, you’ve likely seen that nearly every quarterback prospect with a pulse has been brought in for a Top 30 interview or has met with the Steelers in some capacity.
There has been no shortage of speculation by experts and fans alike about which signal callers 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 that could prompt an early selection on draft weekend.
But which of these young guys has the team ready to make that move? Let’s examine the top six prospects of the 2022 class and take a look at the likelihood each one could hear their name called by the Steelers if available, as well as when that call might be.
Note: Prospects are listed based on estimated availability.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Selection Chance: High, Round 1
The Steelers tipping their hand about their fascination with a specific prospect is nothing new, and the team has been linked frequently to the athletic Liberty standout since the Senior Bowl. Willis is widely considered the highest upside prospect at the quarterback position in this draft, thanks to his rocket-launching right arm and superb running ability. For the Steelers, he would be an intriguing addition as the potential quarterback of the future, while Mitch Trubisky holds down the fort for a year. Pittsburgh’s interest in Willis could prompt a Draft Day deal to move up and secure their guy, but it’s more likely they wait and hope his inconsistent accuracy and limited experience cause a slight fall into their laps at No. 20.
Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Selection Chance: Low, Round 1
This may surprise some, but the big question when it comes to Pickett is, “What does he bring to the quarterback room which Mitch Trubisky doesn’t already?” They are both prototypically sized quarterbacks with good athleticism, but neither possesses elite arm talent and both were essentially one-year-wonders before declaring for the draft. Mel Kiper of ESPN recently mocked Pickett to Pittsburgh, but stated his ceiling is like a Derek Carr and his floor is an Andy Dalton. Sounds very Trubisky-like to me, which is why I see the Steelers targeting other signal callers than the hometown hero.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Selection Chance: Medium, Late Round 1 - Early Round 2
This is the guy that things could get whacky about. Ridder is almost assuredly gone before the Steelers get to their second pick at 52 overall. I see the team taking potentially three different approaches in regards to the athletic Cincinnati quarterback. One, the Steelers just go ahead and take him at 20, knowing it’s a reach but realizing he won’t be there when it’s their turn again. Two, the Steelers trade back with a WR-needy team (KC, GB) and select Ridder at the back end of the 1st Round, while adding an extra pick or two. Three, they go Best Player Available (BPA) at 20 and then trade up from 2:52 to select Ridder at the top of Round 2. Approach two is definitely the most preferable, in my opinion. However, approach one seems most likely based on the Steelers recent draft tendencies.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Selection Chance: Very Low, Round 2
Despite attending Corral’s Pro Day and having him in for a Pre-Draft visit, I’m not sold on the Steelers interest in the Ole Miss quarterback. It seems more like just doing their due diligence. Yes, Corral’s mobility is a fit for Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s system, and he does have great leadership skills, but the measurables are not what the Steelers look for at the position traditionally. I get the feeling that will play a role in the team’s decision-making process. Some have compared Corral to a more athletic Drew Brees, but maybe the comp is actually closer to a Baker Mayfield, and I’m guessing the Steelers will pass.
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Selection Chance: Low, Round 2
The Steelers have shown a little more interest in Howell than I would’ve expected given the measurables and strong Mayfield comps from national pundits. Here’s the thing with Howell: he has loads of college experience and exhibits better arm talent than Corral or Pickett. Much like Corral, Howell’s size may be the main inhibitor of his potential selection, as well as the fact the Steelers probably like Willis and Ridder more. If the Steelers are absolutely 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 the Pick at 52 if he falls there and Pittsburgh goes another direction in Round 1, I don’t expect the team would make a move to go get him ahead of schedule.
Carson Strong, Nevada
Selection Chance: High, Round 2 or 3
Other than Willis, this is the prospect I could see the Steelers most likely to turn in the card for if he is available to them at either 2:52 or 3:84. If they address other needs with their first one or two picks, this makes a lot of sense. Strong has a massive arm and enough pocket mobility to make it work in a Matt Canada system, although injury history is a concern. Also, he absolutely measures out as a prototypical Steelers quarterback. Based on what happens in the late 1st or early 2nd round with other QB-needy teams, the Steelers could choose to go ahead and snap him up in Round 2 if there is a run at the position. If they can try to wait until Round 3 when most of those teams are seemingly set at the position. Also, the later into the draft we go, the less it would cost the Steelers to move up for a player they like. That has to be attractive to Kevin Colbert and Coach Tomlin.
Who will the Steelers take in the three day selection process? Let us know your takes in the comment section. Don’t forget to check out the 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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