Everybody just calm down for a minute.
As the 2022 NFL offseason ramps up ahead of the draft at the end of the month, the speculation grows exponentially. What positions are going to go flying off the board? What players are going to be available for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the 20th pick? Will the Steelers trade up? Will they trade down? If everyone is available, who would they take?
These questions could drive someone insane if they must have answers at this time. But for those seeking the answer to the question early in April rather than sit back and wait for the solution on April 28, every little move that is made will be looked at with a microscope. The problem is, are people really seeing what is actually going on?
Although the phrase “the Steelers have been doing their due diligence when it comes to the 2022 NFL draft” has been thrown out by multiple places, it seems like sometimes people might not get exactly what that is saying. While applying this particularly in 2022 to the quarterback position, one should be reminded that it could be applied in multiple places at various times.
Since it is the quarterback position that is front and center at this time, it’s going to be used as the example here. There are people who believe that the Steelers are definitely taking a quarterback and the 2022 NFL draft because of all the things that have been said and done. Those people would be wrong. They are not wrong because of the word quarterback, they are wrong because of the word definitely.
The Steelers have to be prepared for anything and everything when it comes to the 2022 NFL draft, particularly in the first round. Knowing how much a first-round pick can be utilized by the team right away, it’s the most important pick they will make. The Steelers know that when they make their list of the top 20 prospects, one of them will be available. But what is the order?
The only way the Steelers are going to know this order is by making sure that they study everyone. Sometimes the Steelers can get by without studying all the prospects as there may be certain positions that they can cross off needing to take at pick number 20. An example for this season would likely be running back. Since the Steelers used their first-round pick on running back in 2021, it would not be very efficient to do the same in 2022 based on the nature of the position. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there were any running backs in the top 20 in this draft, so it didn’t really help them this year.
For the first time in Mike Tomlin’s career as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback is not crossed off. One could argue that it might not have been crossed off the last couple of seasons as they knew Ben Roethlisberger only had so much time left, but they didn’t have to go as extensive as they do in 2022. If there was someone who really stood out to the Steelers and was available when they picked the last few drafts, they could have pulled the trigger. But it did not work out that way.
In 2022, it’s a whole different ball game for the Steelers. They simply can’t cross off quarterback this season. Do they have to select a quarterback in 2022? Absolutely not. The Steelers already have two former first-round picks as well as their primary backup from the last three seasons on the roster. They have options. If the Steelers don’t take a quarterback in this draft, they are not going to be in trouble for 2022. But that doesn’t mean taking a quarterback is off the table.
The only way the Pittsburgh Steelers will know if the right quarterback for their franchise is going to be available to them in 2022 is if they do their “due diligence.” They have to get to know these players and see if they could be that person. And the answer could be no.
Depending on how the draft shakes out, the Steelers have to be ready to answer the question if a quarterback is available once they are on the clock. Additionally, the Steelers have to decide if they like a player enough to move up to get them, whether it be a small move of only a couple selections or a large move to the top 10. In order to weigh these options, they have to get to know these players. Once again, this is doing their “due diligence.”
While some are complaining the Steelers are tipping their hand the rest of the league, are they really doing this? Using quarterback Malik Willis as an example, does the rest of the league know what the Steelers are willing to do? Are they going to trade up into the top five to the top 10 in order to land him? Would they still pass on him at number 20 if a player at another position that they really like is available? While we know that the Steelers have shown a lot of interest in Willis, no one really knows what they would do in each of the situations. More importantly, we don’t know which of these situations is actually going to play out.
If a certain quarterback who some thought may not be available when the Steelers select happens to be there, isn’t it better if they actually have met with this player on multiple occasions and done the research to know what they would be getting? I would hope so.
The Steelers doing their due diligence is not them locking into a certain position. It seems that some have got this in their mind, whether it be fans, national media, those covering the Steelers, or even those at BTSC. While it is still a possibility, the Steelers need to be ready for any situation when it comes to the draft.
Interesting enough, my thoughts were mirrored very similarly by Steelers.com editor Bob Labriola in his most recent addition of Asked & Answered. In being accused of being in denial about the Steelers wanting a quarterback because of all the Pro Days they have been attending, Labriola responded with this, using the term ‘due diligence’:
My way of looking at this is that the Steelers are doing their due diligence on the top quarterback prospects in the event they are faced with a scenario during the upcoming draft where picking one of those quarterbacks represents the best value for them at that point in the three-day proceedings. Should that scenario present itself, they want to be prepared to make the correct selection. Coach Mike Tomlin never has been in a situation where the team was looking to replace a Hall of Fame quarterback, and picking one and missing on that pick sets a team back more than missing on a player at any other position, in my opinion.
Let’s say I need to purchase a new vehicle. In doing so, I’m going to do my due diligence to research and test drive many options. I could be looking at various makes, models, and styles. I might be looking at an SUV, a sedan, a minivan, or a truck. I like trucks. Trucks are great! I might test drive several trucks. My kids might see me test driving the trucks and think ‘Daddy‘s going to get a truck.’ But if the trucks aren’t the right fit at this time for me and my family, I might pass on the trucks. But I’d also be foolish to not look into it. What would be foolish is if I insisted on a truck even if it was a bad choice.
The last thing Steelers can afford is to get the quarterback position wrong with a high pick in the draft in 2022. If the right guy is not there, they should not be drafting the position. If their guy is there, they should do what they need to do to make sure they get him. The only way they know if this will be the case is to actually do the research. The fact that they are researching should not give fans the impression that this is definitely the way they are going to go.
“Due diligence” and “locked-in” are not synonyms. They aren’t even the same part of speech. It’s a big step to go from one to the other. We’ll find out if the Steelers made that step in three weeks when we hear their draft selections announced in Las Vegas. Until then, don’t get the two things confused.