Joe Kuzma’s 2022 3-Round Steelers Mock Draft 2.0: Time to take a QB
Christmas Day for football fans is just around the corner. As the 2022 NFL Draft comes to us on Thursday, it’s quarterbacks (and not sugar plums) dancing in the heads of many Steelers fans, following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger.
Today’s NFL fans are impatient. They want tomorrow today, and yesterday is never good enough. The pressure cooker has created an environment which chews up and spits out prospects at the most important position, as passers come and go: they often come early in the draft and leave with little fanfare.
Some are lucky enough to cut their teeth as backups for many years, and when called upon, people remark “Oh I remember that guy.”
That’s the unfortunate boom or bust position that Pittsburgh finds themselves contemplating, as franchises usually trample over one another to secure the highest spot possible to pick the savior of their franchise. In recent years we’ve seen the first round have as many as five quarterbacks selected, but with the glut of new signal callers still cutting their teeth on teams in those top positions, it’s likely the Steelers do as they always do – and not trade the entire organization away – waiting patiently at their spot to get their guy.
Whether or not the quarterback of the future falls to the Steelers with the 20th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft is to be seen. They have as good of a chance to stay put and still end up with a solid player – or risk very little to jump a few spots if they’re feeling froggy.
While I’ve been against drafting a quarterback in the first round due to the gamble, I can’t argue if the right prospect falls right into the Steelers lap… versus the capital other teams have dropped in recent years to move up. (Such as the 49ers, Rams, and Eagles.)
With the recent re-signing of S Terrell Edmunds, my original draft thoughts have now shifted toward potentially taking a passer. Let’s see if the mock draft simulators agree with my notion this time…
First Round (20): Malik Willis – Quarterback (Liberty)
Willis is the player who I believe Pittsburgh will draft. According many PA sportsbook apps, he’s also the betting favorite to be chosen by the Steelers.
Entering the offseason, I wasn’t on board with any of the quarterbacks. But after the constant flirtation by Mike Tomlin and company, the smoke signals all point to Willis as much as it did with Najee Harris last season.
There was no way the Steelers were passing on a running back with pick 22 last year, and there’s no way they are passing on a QB with pick 20: if they stay put.
To grab Willis will mean he needs to get past teams such as the Carolina Panthers (6), Houston Texans (13), and two picks by the New Orleans Saints (16,19). In most simulations, Willis was gone by 20, usually to the Saints.
That left me with other choices, such as Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder. However, I feel if Willis is the guy, and he makes it out of the top ten, the Steelers will do something to move up a few picks to acquire him. If not, Pickett and Ridder could be just as high on their boards.
Also considered: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh), Desmond Ridder (QB – Cincinnati), Devonte Wyatt (DL – Georgia)
Second Round (52): Skyy Moore – Wide Receiver (Western Michigan)
I’m trying to will this pick into existence, I swear.
As I previously wrote, the Steelers need wide receivers: they lost three in free agency and have only added former Raven Miles Boykin off of waivers.
Kevin Colbert has a history of finding players out of the MAC, and may Moore, who fits a similar profile of Diontae Johnson (who is in the final year of his rookie deal.)
This pick just screams classic Steelers mid-round receiver and they’d be fortunate to pick him here, because everything I’ve read has Moore as high as a first rounder and in some cases, falling into the third.
Also considered: George Pickens (WR – Georgia), John Metchie III (WR – Alabama)
Third Round (84): Marcus Jones – Cornerback (Houston)
Imagine back in January discussing that the Steelers avoid drafting offensive line with their first three picks in this year’s draft?
Collective heads would’ve exploded, but the needs have shifted. Quarterback has become a realistic developmental possibility, wide receiver jumped in as a need, and there’s no way they don’t attempt to add to the secondary.
After missing on safeties in the first two rounds, the Steelers come away with a stud corner in the third. Several options were available, but if Jones is here, he’s the pick. I believe they could target a cornerback over a safety, after re-signing Terrell Edmunds and bringing everyone else back.
But with corner, they only have Cameron Sutton for one more year on his current deal, and Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace only signed two-year deals this offseason. Justin Layne has never panned out as a draft pick and James Pierre cannot be trust either.
They need some depth, and get it here in the third round with Jones.
Also considered: Coby Bryant (CB – Cincinnati), Nick Cross (S – Maryland)