The 2021 NFL mock drafts keep mocking right along with three games now remaining in the 2020 season. On Tuesday, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports released a mock first-round offering and it includes the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a quarterback after trading up to the tenth overall spot to do so.
Wilson has the Steelers trading up from 24th overall with the Dallas Cowboys to select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the 10th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Below is his quick and dirty blurb on the Steelers trading up to select Lance, the fifth selected quarterback in his mock.
Two years ago, the Steelers traded up to No. 10 for Devin Bush. This time they’re looking a franchise QB to replace Big Ben, who appears likely to return for ’21. Lance is short on experience, but long on everything else NFL QBs are evolving into.
In his 19 college games played at North Dakota State, Lance completed 208 of his 318 total pass attempts for 2,947 yards with 39 touchdowns and one interception. Lance also rushed 192 times for 1,325 yards and 18 touchdowns during his college career.
Lance was only a starter for one full season in college and that was in 2019. He only played in one game 2020 due to North Dakota State cutting short their season due to COVID-19. In that one game, Lance threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores and three-time FCS defending champion North Dakota State rallied with a 21-point fourth quarter to beat Central Arkansas 39-28.
Lance is obviously already one of the top five quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class and thus there’s a good chance the Steelers would indeed need to trade up from 24th overall to select him. Would they need to go up to the Cowboys 10th overall spot to select Lance? It’s quite possible.
What would it take for the Steelers to move up 14 spots in the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft? It’s hard to say for sure but the mock draft shows them giving up their first-round selections in 2021 and 2022 and their second-round selection in 2021.
Some of the biggest factor when it comes to Lance is the fact that he has so few college starts and that he played against lesser quality competition. While he was impressive in his 19 total collage games played, that’s not even two full college seasons. The last four quarterbacks that the Steelers have drafted all exited college with a minimum of 999 total pass attempts. Lance’s 318 total pass attempts aren’t even a third of that amount.
Currently, the only two quarterbacks the Steelers have under contract for the 2021 season are Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph as third-stringer Joshua Dobbs is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. If Roethlisberger comes back in 2021, which seems likely to happen, the odds of the Steelers spending a first or second round selection on a quarterback likely go down quite a bit. However, should Roethlisberger decide he’s done, or the Steelers decide to part ways with him, the likelihood of the team selecting a quarterback in the early rounds of this year’s draft would obviously increase.
While it’s certainly plausible that a quarterback could be drafted early this year by the Steelers, I will be surprised if that ultimately happens. I think they are more likely to take a flyer on a quarterback after the fourth round this year to potentially groom as a second or third string option down the road. That would then potentially set the Steelers up to draft A quarterback early in the 2022 NFL Draft.