The Pittsburgh Steelers were much bigger players in the 2022 free agency market than what fans are used to seeing. Filling a number of needs during the first wave, there are still a few positions the Steelers need to address, either as free agency continues on, through the NFL Draft later this month, or both. With the NFL Scouting Combine and player Pro Days behind us, there was a lot 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. After the first week of free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers still go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could still be on top of the list. Two other current team needs include wide receiver and strong safety. With the opportunity for the Steelers to continue to shape their roster in the weeks leading into the draft, 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 a recent two-round mock draft by Fantasypros.com, they have the Steelers adding another option to the interior offensive line. Even with the Steelers adding two free agents at the center or guard position in March, if the Steelers have the chance to add a game-changing talent to the position group it should still be something they consider. 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 | Zion Johnson | IOL | Boston College | RS Senior |
Even with the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days 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 Johnson according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Zion Johnson transferred to Boston College after playing at Davidson. It didn’t take long for Johnson to become a starter on a talented Eagles offensive line and he proceeded to start for three seasons. Two of those seasons came at left guard with one at left tackle. I believe his natural position is guard where his aggressive mentality enables him to handle the faster action that comes with playing on the interior. Johnson doesn’t have the ideal length or wide frame to play tackle in the NFL, although he can handle spot duty in a pinch. Johnson is a smart and physical blocker with consistent technique. He plays within himself and is rarely caught with poor posture or poor control of his frame. I believe he is best in pass protection but he’s still an above average run blocker that is comfortable operating in space. Johnson has plug-and-play potential at guard in the NFL and given how consistent his technique is, I would keep him on the left side. He has the makeup of an above average starter that can lock down a starting role at least through a second contract.
Ideal Role: Starting guard
Scheme Fit: Zone run scheme
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 Johnson with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group when the Steelers make their pick? Is this a position you feel the Steelers may not think of as a “position of need” after their free agent signings?
Personally, I’m just really happy I was able to find a mock draft of a player I have yet to cover. I will be honest that I was surprised that this was a player mocked to the Steelers at this point as I should have covered him back in February. Why? Because since the Steelers added two interior offensive linemen in free agency, it’s been very rare that one is mocked to them in the first round. I really liked Zion Johnson before free agency, but now I feel the Steelers could go in a different direction in Round 1.
Looking specifically at this mock, even with Kenny Pickett still on the board, I would be upset if the Steelers did not pull the trigger on offensive tackle Charles Cross who they had falling all the way out of the first round. If the goal is to get the best player at a position of need, I feel the Steelers would be better off taking a high quality tackle over that of a guard. But since Johnson has a year of playing left tackle in college, perhaps Steelers would really like that versatility.
Also, just to be thorough, this particular mock had the Steelers drafting defensive lineman Travis Jones out of UConn. While I’m not sure how fans would react to the Steelers picking Johnson in the first round, I think they would be very happy if they landed Jones in Round 2.