It’s time for another roundup of mock drafts from the last seven days to end the current week. And just like last week and in many weeks to come, the selections for the Pittsburgh Steelers were dominated by quarterbacks.
Writers at least gave the Steelers a wide variety of names to choose from, and from varying points in the first round, as well, as the team searches for the next franchise passer after Ben Roethlisberger’s presumed final season.
One of multiple names making their first appearance in the roundup’s two-week history is North Carolina’s Sam Howell. Jack Borowsky at Sports Illustrated made Howell the fourth QB off the board in his mock draft, sending him to the Steelers at 21st overall. Bowowsky writes:
“Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on his last legs. Howell is a very similar player to Baker Mayfield. He is very accurate down the field and looks great when making good decisions. However, Howell needs to improve his decision-making. If he does that, he’ll be able to improve his draft stock. After a fantastic freshman season, Howell played “hero ball” too often as a sophomore, and it cost him at times.”
Howell has been a popular name in 2022 mock drafts. He was one of a couple quarterbacks consistently appearing at the top of 2022 mocks created during the 2021 cycle. The UNC passer has much of what is desired in a franchise QB. But as Borowsky stated, has not put it all together consistently and without significant mistakes to convince teams he is a sure-fire franchise guy. This season will be crucial to his stock. A replication of his freshman year (259-422, 3,641 yards, 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions) and reduced mistakes gets him to a position where this selection could manifest in reality.
An interesting sidenote for all those who love dreaming of a Pitt University-Pittsburgh Steelers connection, one of the three QBs to go ahead of Howell is current Pitt starter Kenny Pickett, 16th overall to the New Orleans Saints.
Another new name attached to the Steelers in these weekly roundups is the QB appearing at No. 1 overall most often in the class early on: Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. His selection to the Steelers comes by way of Josh Edwards at CBS. Edwards has Rattler dropping to 13th overall to Pittsburgh as the second QB off the board, writing:
“I am not totally sold on Spencer Rattler, but it would be foolish to forge a headstrong opinion on any 2022 draft prospect right now. Pittsburgh should be in the market for a quarterback and Rattler could be in the mix.”
An important note of caution: Edwards is absolutely right in his first thought. Short of Trevor Lawrence or a similar generational QB, no player’s stock is locked in this far in advance. The upcoming college season and pre-draft process next winter will alter everyone’s standing, and opinions are guaranteed to change.
At this point, Rattler holds the status as the top QB in the class for many analysts, given the incredible talent that made him the No. 1 QB in his recruiting class. At times, he looked the part during his first season starting at Oklahoma in 2020. And at times, he looked like a first-year starter that needs to improve his mental processing to avoid mistakes. His place at No. 1 is a projection based on what Lincoln Riley can do with him, the way he did with Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. Rattler’s ceiling purely as a passer could exceed all three of them.
And finally, a quarterback who readers of last week’s roundup should recognize: Desmond Ridder. The selection comes from Brendan Donahue over at Sharp Football Analysis, who did not include explanations for each pick while including the mock in a larger preview of the upcoming season and draft.
Ridder is a selection that does fit much of what Pittsburgh would like in its next QB. His 6’4″ frame is just an inch shy of Roethlisberger’s as a draftee. He brings enough athleticism to be a dual-threat option, though not to the degree of being a true scrambler. This year is crucial for the Cincinnati prospect, who appeared in first-round mocks this year before returning to school.