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Steelers draft profile: Joe Milton (QB, Tennessee)

It’s time to strap in because Milton is about to take you for a wild ride.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Approaching the 2024 NFL Draft, we’ll be scouting as many of the top prospects that the Pittsburgh Steelers could have their eye on anywhere from Rounds 1 through 7. We’ll breakdown the prospects themselves, strengths and weaknesses, projected draft capital and their fit with the Steelers.

Given the Steelers’ potential needs at quarterback (or, at the very least, to bring in competition), we’ll take a look at Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III.

QB Joe Milton III

  • Position: Quarterback
  • Class: Fifth-year senior, Tennessee (transferred from Michigan in 2021)
  • Size: 6’5, 244 lbs
  • Age: 23 years old
  • Projected draft range: Round 5

Joe Milton III Notes

Joe Milton III is about as tantalizing a prospect as they come. He has a prototypical NFL size and a cannon attached to his right arm. His journey to the NFL Draft was certainly circuitous.

After committing to Michigan in 2018, Milton III could not latch on as the Wolverines starting QB, which prompted him to transfer to Tennessee following the 2021 season. He held a clipboard for the majority of the last two years behind Hendon Hooker, a third-round pick last year by the Detroit Lions. The burly signal-caller got his chance as a full-time starter after Hooker suffered a season-ending injury towards the tail-end of 2022 and made the most of it. He threw for four TDs and zero INTs in his last two contests, which included an Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

He was able to carry on that momentum into this past season, throwing for 2,813 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

To give you some context into these pieces, each player profile I comprise this offseason will have a theme. I’ll watch three full games by that player and encourage you to check out some clips I post below that are relevant to his scouting report. In these games I can’t watch the All-22 (overhead look) which makes it tough to assess a perfect picture — but not impossible.

Note: I’m watching games from this past season exclusively. This is who Milton is now. I don’t care about his tape from 2021, etc. A team that drafts him is likely getting this version of him. Without further ado...

Milton vs. Alabama (10-22-2023)

Milton shows great pocket presence here, as he displays his mobility and power, rushing for a first down and barreling over a Crimson Tide defender.

This next clip is a gorgeous throw. Effortless TD pass from the big man. This is the type of throw that makes you wonder why he isn’t considered one of the top QBs in this class.

Here is where Milton needs to improve. His arm is so good it often results in him putting too much sauce on the football. Here he overthrows an easy score. Reel it back sometimes, dude.

I’m absolutely blown away by Milton’s ability to rip throws to the boundaries. This first throw is to the wide side of the field and should have NFL GMs drooling. In the second clip, he drops it in a bucket on a jump ball for a big play. He also does a good job maneuvering in the pocket while facing pressure here.

Milton finished this game 28-41 for 271 yards, and zero TDs.

The Volunteers lost to Alabama 34-20, but to no fault of Milton’s. Their defense was gashed in the second half, and it led to little time of possession for the Tennessee QB.

Overall, this was an INCREDIBLY impressive performance against a powerhouse SEC foe.

Milton vs. Georgia (11-18-2023)

It’s not all roses and butterflies for Big Joe. On the first play of scrimmage for Tennessee he makes two bad decisions - throws it into traffic, and then catches the ball behind the line of scrimmage.

However, he still finds a way to make chicken salad out of chicken you know what.

Milton can be hesitant at times to throw the ball over the middle - but when he has time and is decisive, he can slice and dice a secondary with absolute rockets. He displays impressive footwork here as well.

Inconsistency is what has plagued Milton over the years. We know he can throw the ball one hundred yards, but he severely underthrows this deep ball which should have led to an interception.

Milton came back down to earth in this game. He wasn’t awful, but he made some plays that leave you scratching your head. But it was against a tough Georgia defense, and he didn’t commit any turnovers. But his Volunteers only scored 10 points in a blowout loss.

Milton vs. Florida (9-16-2023)

This game was another polarizing performance from the fifth year Senior, as he made a bundle of careless plays and also flashed major potential.

Midway through the second quarter Milton finds himself under pressure and throws a pop-up to center field that ultimately results in an INT. Very questionable decision-making.

This is the clip I want to finish on, because I overall I ended up more impressed with Milton than I thought I would have been. How many NFL QBs can make these two throws? I can’t name fifteen that can.

The first bomb travels 65 yards in the air and should have been caught. The second pass left me in awe.

Strengths

  • Arm talent
  • Quick release
  • Throwing to the boundaries
  • Mobility
  • Good feel for pressure

Weaknesses

  • Inconsistency
  • Too many check-downs and quick screens, which inflated his completion percentage
  • Overthrows
  • Inexperience

What others are saying about Joe Milton

Dalton Miller - Pro Football Network

“Is Joe Milton an NFL player? The short answer is no.

Josh Heupel’s offense already makes the evaluation process difficult. The structure and concepts he runs at Tennessee are a far cry from NFL structures. In Tennessee’s offense, the answers are on the back of the test, and nothing is keeping you from flipping the page over and cheating.”

Charlie Campbell - Walter Football

“With good size and a cannon for an arm, Milton has serious passing talent for the next level. Milton can be deadly when given time, but he does not throw well on the run. In the pocket, Milton can be accurate and challenge defenses at every level.”

Joe Milton’s fit with the Steelers

Count me in as a Joe Milton truther. If I’m the Steelers and I want to take a shot on a high-upside, supremely talented player in the middle rounds, I’d have Milton in my sights. Are there inconsistencies? Absolutely. But I saw him make throws that Kenny Pickett could not make in his wildest dreams.

He’s the type of quarterback that you would create in a lab. He just needs plenty of fine-tuning.

What are your thoughts on Joe Milton? And which draft prospects would you like to see profiled next? Let us know in the comments below!