Steve Dillon’s 2022 3-Round Steelers Mock Draft
This is one of the more difficult drafts to get a read on who the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at taking with their first round pick.
They’ve wined and dined several of the quarterbacks in the class, but are they actually that interested in these quarterbacks? Or are they simply doing their due diligence to make sure they don’t pass on the wrong the guy?
Their interest in Malik Willis, quarterback from Liberty, seems real enough but if he isn’t there at 20 for the Steelers, then what?
There were several players I considered with this pick.
Desmond Ridder, quarterback from Cincinnati, was certainly in consideration. Ridder has a lot of qualities that the Steelers covet in the position: leadership, competitive toughness, size, and athleticism. And his track record of success at Cincinnati speaks for itself. But the accuracy issues concern me enough that I chose to look elsewhere.
The best value on the board at 20 in this mock, in my opinion, was at wide receiver, cornerback, and safety.
First Round (20): Lewis Cine – Safety (Cincinnati)
The Steelers have a more pressing need at safety so it was between Daxton Hill, defensive back from Michigan, and Lewis Cine, safety from Georgia, for me.
I ultimately went with Cine here over Hill, who I love as a prospect and actually like slightly better than Cine.
I think both players will catch Mike Tomlin’s and Kevin Colbert’s eyes and it wouldn’t surprise me if they also like Daxton Hill more, but, at the risk of using a cliché, Cine just feels like a Steeler.
He’s a violent run defender who sets the tone early and often with highlight-reel hits.
He plays with the energy, competitiveness, and physicality that the Steelers are known for (look no further than the College Football Championship game against Alabama if you want an example of those traits from Cine).
He checks a lot of boxes that the Steelers look for in a first-round pick:
- He has great athleticism, both on the field and in the impressive numbers that he put up at the combine.
- He played in the SEC, a power five conference.
- He’s an early declare for the draft.
One of my negatives for Cine is that he does not create many turnovers. He has the coverage ability, speed, and overall athleticism to produce them, but he did not make enough of those plays in college, despite his ability to break up passes.
Turnovers are something that the Steelers prioritize on defense, so the coaching staff will need to develop that part of Cine’s game if they are going to get the most out of him.
With that said, Cine can come in right away and make an impact on the Steelers’ defense, whose secondary needs restocked after losing Joe Haden and Terrell Edmunds (assuming he doesn’t resign with the team).
Second Round (52): George Pickens – Wide Receiver (Georgia)
I did not intend to double dip from the University of Georgia in this mock but, with the way the board fell and wide receiver George Pickens still there for the Steelers in the 2nd round, I couldn’t pass on him.
The Steelers have definitely shown interest in Pickens and this feels like another 2nd-round player that the league overlooks and falls into the Steelers’ lap.
Pickens broke out as a true freshman in 2019 but hasn’t played a lot of football since.
COVID-19 shortened his sophomore year in 2020 and he tore his ACL in camp prior to the 2021 season (it is worth noting that Pickens recovered quickly from the injury and got back on the field for the 2021 playoffs).
With that said, Pickens was a star whenever he was on the field, despite Georgia’s run-heavy offense.
Pickens certainly has risk due to the injury history and will need time to develop due to his lack of playing time in college, but he is a very talented player that can stretch the field.
If the Steelers hit on this pick, they could have another star wide receiver on their hands.
Third Round (84): Coby Bryant – Cornerback (Cincinnati)
I considered taking Coby Bryant in the second round, so I did not expect him to make it to the third in this mock, nor do I expect him to fall this far in the actual draft. If the Steelers want him they will most likely need to take him earlier than this.
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, cornerback from Cincinnati, and Bryant’s teammate, has gotten most of the attention in the draft process, and rightly so. But, with Gardner on the other side of the field, opposing offenses tested Bryant often and he excelled, winning the Jim Thorpe Award in 2021.
A big reason for that success is that Bryant has outstanding ball skills. His ball production at Cincinnati speaks for itself.
Over the past four seasons, Bryant has amassed an impressive ten interceptions, thirty-five passes defensed, and four forced fumbles.
On the downside, Bryant lacks the elite speed that most top-end corners need to succeed in the NFL and that could cause problems for him against the faster receivers in the league.
I have my reservations that Coby Bryant will actually fall this far in the draft, but if he does make it to their pick in the second or third rounds, I think the Steelers will really like his tape and seriously consider drafting him.