2022 NFL Draft

2022 Mock Draft Roundup: Trench Support Coming To Steelers’ Offense

Trevor Penning

It’s been a month since we last took a look around to some recent mock drafts to take the pulse of where analysts believe the Pittsburgh Steelers could go in the first round this coming April. During that time, players have fluctuated on draft boards, but the team needs have remained the same in the eyes of the public as to where Pittsburgh should be focused with its first overall selection.

Those two positions standing out as major weaknesses are quarterback and offensive tackle. But while quarterback has been the clearer need and the subject of many mock drafts earlier in the college season, prospects along the O-Line have been earning frequent mentions as potential picks over the last couple weeks. That trend has been a result of reports indicating the preference Pittsburgh has of bringing in a veteran QB to replace Ben Roethlisberger next season, as opposed to throwing a rookie into the fire.

With that in mind, this roundup features a pair of recent mocks that both offered Pittsburgh some help along the offensive line. The first comes from Josh Edwards over at CBS, who at 18th overall selected Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning as the Steelers’ new blue-chip tackle. Edwards writes:

“Pittsburgh invested in the running back position before the offensive line. They have had elite linemen like David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villaneuva in the past. It would benefit them to get back to that point.”

Penning would immediately become the face of the team’s O-Line of the future, and would also mark a departure from Pittsburgh’s traditional draft preferences. Penning and the UNI Panthers play at the Division I FCS level. The Steelers traditionally target big schools in power conferences for their first-round selections. The last first-rounder for the team not from a power conference was Roethlisberger out of Miami (Ohio) in 2003, and the last non-FBS first-rounder the team selected was Jamain Stephens out of North Carolina A&T in 1996, who was also an offensive tackle.

Penning has played his way into first-round discussion, though, based on dominating at the FCS level, showing he can be a high-end prospect with some coaching as he jumps from that level of competition to the NFL.

A name tossed around for the Steelers much longer than Penning’s has been that of Kenyon Green, a versatile lineman from Texas A&M. He makes another appearance linked to the franchise courtesy of a mock draft from current ESPN and former Draft Network analyst Jordan Reid, who sent Green to Pittsburgh at 19th overall, writing:

“This Steelers pick will likely be a common landing spot for quarterbacks in other mock drafts, but I believe the team will look to acquire a veteran instead of a rookie. From the exchange of sideline smirks between Mike Tomlin and Aaron Rodgers, reports of not wanting to start over with a rookie and a roster that is built to contend for a playoff spot, Pittsburgh could instead go after Rodgers, Russell Wilson or an alternate option if Ben Roethlisberger retires. And with expected holes along the interior offensive line in 2022, Green could be a strong option. He has been a stalwart for the Aggies this season, playing more than 85 snaps apiece at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle.”

Citing the belief Pittsburgh will go veteran over rookie at quarterback next season following the expected retirement of Roethlisberger, Reid opts to send one of the draft’s top line prospects to the team. Green has long held first-round status in the eyes of draft writers, and his versatility is something that makes him especially appealing to the Steelers. His experience on either side of the line can help him replace either of Dan Moore Jr. or Chukwuma Okorafor in the lineup, depending on who would earn the other spot in 2022, and his time at guard makes him an option to help fill the void should Trai Turner leave and the team fail to replace him.

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