NFL Draft

WalterFootball 2017 Mock Draft: Steelers Choose A QB In The First Round

If the headline makes you nervous, remember, it’s all just a mock draft.

But at least one draft site is linking a quarterback up with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 30. In Walter Football’s latest mock draft, he has the team taking QB Deshaun Watson at 30th overall and serves up a pretty lengthy explanation.

“Ben Roethlisberger has hinted at retirement this offseason. In fact, he hasn’t even committed to playing in 2017, most recently saying that he was “leaning” toward returning for next year. Roethlisberger, now 35, will probably play for the Steelers next season, but how certain can the front office be if that’ll be the case for 2018 and beyond? We’ve seen crazier retirements, so it’s not out of the question that Roethlisberger could even retire this offseason.

The last team that had a future Hall of Fame quarterback with retirement drama was Green Bay. What did the Packers do when Brett Favre was mulling retirement? They selected Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps Pittsburgh will follow a similar strategy.

I should note that no team we’ve spoken to has Deshaun Watson as a first-round prospect. One high-ranking personnel man in the NFC told me he has Watson as a third-round prospect. It’s so much like the Teddy Bridgewater draft, when the media had Bridgewater in the first round, and yet NFL franchises considered him to be a second-day prospect, even before his woeful pro day. However, this was prior to the national championship, so I have to believe some team will trade up into the back end of the opening frame to take Watson, much like the Vikings did with Bridgewater. In this case, Pittsburgh is simply taking Watson with its own pick, and I think it’s a very logical selection.”

That last paragraph isn’t exactly a strong endorsement for taking Watson in the first round though, for what it’s worth, I like Watson quite a bit and think he has first round value. In his last season with the Tigers, he threw for over 4500 yards, completed 67% of his passes, and tossed 41 touchdowns. He has 26 career rushing touchdowns, including a season high of 12 in 2015 while rushing for over 1100 yards that same year.

Pittsburgh has certainly openly discussed the need to look for Ben Roethlisberger’s successor and they’ve shown interest in some of the draft’s highest ranked QBs. They’ve been at the Pro Days of most of these top QBs, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were there at Clemson where Watson worked out, and they’re bringing in Davis Webb for a pre-draft visit. Webb has been “rising” up boards to the point where CBS’ Pete Prisco thinks he’ll be a first round pick.

A word of caution: there are always players who get talked up during the draft process (see Savage, Tom), and never come close to meeting rumor mill. But this QB class is weak and a guy like Webb has a serious arm. Is it impossible for Webb to be considered by the Steelers at 30? Maybe not.

Throw in Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and those are the three names at QB to watch in round one. Brad Kaaya appears to be a logical third round selection given the team’s seemingly high level of interest in him.

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