Steelers Plan the Perfect 2022 NFL Draft: Quarterback, Receiver, and Defensive Line Top Priorities

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 offseason was full of ups and downs. It all started with the announcement of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement after an 18-year career that five years from now will be immortalized in Canton, Ohio. The post-Big Ben era began with a period of successful free agency that included the signing of former Pro Bowl quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh also experienced tragedy this offseason with the death of quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Pittsburgh now turns its attention to the NFL Draft, the last for longtime general manager Kevin Colbert. As always, Colbert and his team will look to maximize their draft picks, which this year includes the 20th overall pick out of seven overall picks. The Steelers will use the draft to fill most of the remaining holes in the roster. They are also expected to add a quarterback room that currently includes Trubisky and veteran Mason Rudolph.

Without being privy to the team’s internal draft meetings, let’s dive into what we believe is the perfect blueprint for black and gold.

draft choices

  • 20th overall (1st round)
  • 52nd overall (2nd round)
  • 84th overall (3rd round)
  • 138th overall (4th round)
  • 208th overall (6th round)
  • 225th overall (7th round)
  • 241st overall (7th round)

Don’t settle for the QB

It’s no secret that the Steelers like Malik Willis, who was designed to be their first pick in the CBS Sports consensus draft. In most mock drafts, it is expected that Willis will still be available at the end of the first round. That would be more than good for Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, who isn’t shy about his affinity for mobile quarterbacks. While fans shouldn’t sleep on his passing prowess, Willis is exceptional on the ground, as evidenced by his 1,822 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns during his last two years at Liberty.

If Willis is selected before then, there’s a good chance that Matt Corral or Desmond Ritter – the other two highest-ranked possible quarterbacks along with Kenny Pickett – are still available. Those wouldn’t be bad picks either, assuming the Steelers liked what they saw from both players during the draft process.

If the Steelers aren’t sold on either player, they would be better served by spending their first pick in another position, whether it’s a receiver, defensive lineman, defensive back, or offensive lineman. From there, the Steelers can draft a quarterback later in the draft who, at worst, could serve as a capable third string behind Trubisky and Rudolph for the 2022 season. Regardless, expect the Steelers to pull the trigger on a quarterback in the first or second round. Hopefully for Steelers fans, it’s the quarterback Pittsburgh envisions leading their team in the near future.

Add to receiving body

Colbert’s legacy in Pittsburgh includes his success in wide receiver selection. The list includes Antonio Brown, Santonio Holmes, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Plaxico Burress and current Steelers wide receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

Burress and Holmes are the only two wide receivers Pittsburgh has called in the first round of this century. The Steelers were able to find most of their future star receivers in the second and third rounds (with one notable exception being Brown, who was a sixth-round pick). The 2022 draft class is filled with promising wideouts, and while a good chunk of them are first-round picks, there will be plenty of good prospects available on day 2 of the draft.

Pittsburgh has two Day 2 picks: 52nd and 84th overall. Given your needs as a receiver, expect the Steelers not to wait until the third round to select a receiver. As stated above, most of the highest-rated receivers will be off the board when the Steelers are on the clock in round two. The plan will be to select the best receiver available. Optimists can expect North Dakota State’s Christian Watson and/or Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore to still be available. It’s not a total dream, as Watson and Moore are the 48th and 52nd ranked players in CBS Sports’ outlook rankings, respectively. But most draft experts are projecting that both players will be off the board at that point in the second round.

That leaves us with Boise State’s Khalil Shakir, who is just behind Watson and Moore in the CBS Sports rankings. Shakir, who has caught 19 passes during his last three seasons at Boise State, would be a good addition to the Pittsburgh offense. But if he’s also off the board by then, expect the Steelers to take a different path with their second pick as they wait for another round to receive a receiver.

Pittsburgh can use a number of picks in the wide receiver position, but the team’s recent acquisition of former Ravens player Miles Boykin makes that scenario less likely.

fix the trenches

Pittsburgh addressed its guard/center needs with the free agent signings of Mason Cole and James Daniels. He maintained stability in offense by re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor to a new three-year contract. These moves allowed the Steelers to focus more on other roster needs early in the draft. That said, Pittsburgh must still look for an offensive tackle that can support Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr. while also serving as a swing tackle.

There is more work to be done on the defensive line. Although they rehired Montravius ‚Äč‚ÄčAdams, Pittsburgh hasn’t done much more to fix a defensive line that contributed to finishing last in the NFL on running defense in 2021. Pittsburgh certainly expects Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt to get back into shape after they lost 32 2021 combined games. But no hope is guaranteed, and when adding the fact that Cam Heyward – while he’s still playing at All-Pro level – will turn 33 at the start of next season, the Steelers need to consider bringing in some blood. new on the defensive line.

There are four defensive linemen, including three from Georgia alone, who could hear their names called in the first round. It’s certainly possible the Steelers will go down that path in the first round, especially if Jordan Davis, Boye Mafe or Devonte Wyatt are still on the board when Pittsburgh is on the clock. But a more realistic scenario is the Steelers using a Day 2 pick to tackle the defensive line. One player who could fill the bill here is former Texas A&M outfielder DeMarvin Leal, who racked up 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles per loss during his final season with the Aggies.

Don’t forget about secondary

Colbert recently said that strong security is the only position on the Pittsburgh roster is the one currently without a starter. With former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds and former Chiefs All-Pro guard Tyrann Mathieu still available, the thinking is that the Steelers will likely fill that void in free agency. Pittsburgh could also choose to take advantage of a draft class that has several promising guards, including Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook, who would be a viable option for Day 2.

The Steelers are largely set at cornerback in 2022, with the return of Cam Sutton, the offseason signing of Levi Wallace and the re-signing of Ahkello Witherspoon. But with Sutton entering the final year of his contract, a Day 2 or Day 3 cornerback draft should be on the table. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, there are more than a few good cornerback prospects in this year’s draft. A good option late in Day 2 and early in Day 3 could be Coby Bryant, who along with Cook was part of a dominant Bearcats secondary that helped Cincinnati win a spot in the College Football Playoff last fall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.