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2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers continue to build the offensive line

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers use their first pick on the offensive line for the first time in 10 years.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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 in April, or both. 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. 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 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 offensive line. Even with the Steelers bringing in a couple free agents to help improve a unit which struggled in 2021, adding an offensive lineman in the first round could help even more as it isn’t something Pittsburgh has done for ten straight drafts. 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 | Trevor Penning | OT | Northern Iowa | 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 Penning according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Trevor Penning is a redshirt senior who aligns at Left Tackle for the Panther offense. good athlete with good explosion and agility to get out on the perimeter. In the run game, he is a nasty and physical player. He has a savage temperament and has finished several plays with the defender on the ground. He is extremely powerful at the point of attack and gets consistent vertical movement in the run game. However, due to his size and inability to bend extremely well, leverage issues are of slight concern against smaller edge defenders. In the passing game, he has been a dominant player in the Missouri Valley Conference. He bends a little at the waist which gets him in trouble at times. He had a couple instances of struggling with the hard inside move by quicker defenders. Although he is a good athlete overall, when he has to move laterally, he has shown instances of struggling. He doesn’t bend exceptionally well, which results in him bending at the waist at times. When his posture isn’t good, it affects his balance while in his pass set. However, he has a powerful punch and is virtually impossible to bull rush. He demonstrates very good length and range and could suffice in the NFL at left tackle. However, he may be a better fit on the right side.

Ideal Role: Starting Offensive Tackle

Scheme Fit: Power run scheme would suit his skillset best but could play in any 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 Penning with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group when the Steelers make their pick? Have you ruled him out as the selection due to the Tomlin/Colbert Pro Day schedule?

Personally, it would be a rare occasion to see me turn down the Steelers investing in the offensive line early in the draft. Whether it be Penning or any other offensive lineman they feel they could work into the lineup and improve the unit, I can get on board. While the lineis not often a sexy pick with fans, the Steelers have not taken a lineman in the first round since David DeCastro. Eventually, the Steelers need to invest their highest draft capital into the position group. If other things they were looking for in the draft are not there at pick No. 20, perhaps 2022 could be the year.

It should be noted that in the highlighted CBS mock draft the Steelers also traded up into the end of the first round to draft quarterback Desmond Ridder. Another mock draft from Bleacher Report also had the Steelers taking Trevor Penning without an additional trade.