We are a little over a week away from the annual NFL Scouting Combine, so at least there is a little bit of seismic activity on the horizon for the NFL fan. Otherwise known as the “Underwear Olympics”, it’s the annual showcase of speed, strength and agility to which NFL front office personnel’s from across the league flock. Draft stocks are often a direct correlation to this event, and a lot of times, there are several names from the event who push themselves into that first-round draft territory.
Think to the 2012 Combine when Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe sent Twitter into a frenzy. This is important, as we’re at the point of the football offseason, where if you simply type in “2022” into a Google search, it shows mock drafts trending.
Pro Football Network is the latest to take their stab at their variation, putting out a four-round mock draft and filling several holes that exist on the Steelers’ roster. In the first round, unlike a majority of the mocks that are out there currently which link Pittsburgh to Liberty QB Malik Willis, they have the team going with Northern Iowa’s massive offensive tackle Trevor Penning. Last year, the team had arguably the worst offensive line in the league, so this pick would legitimately help rectify that.
Showing off a nasty disposition at the recent Senior Bowl, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Penning routinely buried defenders.
“Honestly, that’s passion,” Penning told Pro Football Network. “There’s nothing better than legally assaulting a guy across from you.” This should be music to Steelers’ fans ears, as nastiness was something left to be desired from last season’s starters. “That guy has a legitimate mean streak, and he can flat-out play,” an AFC scout said of Penning.
In the second round, they have the team selecting rocket-armed quarterback Carson Strong from Nevada. In this draft, Strong might be the closest thing to a Ben Roethlisberger-type at 6-foot-4 and 226 pounds, with the prototypical size you want at the position. However, with two knee injuries under his belt, the medicals will likely all need to check out in order for him to remain on the team’s draft board. Also, does he possess the mobility that the team craves in it’s next QB?
In Round 3, this mock has Pittsburgh selecting what, at least on paper, appears to be another dark-horse wide receiver selection that the team has grown accustomed to, in Georgia’s George Pickens. An ACL tear in March 2021 greatly compromised his 2021 season, but he showed no ill effects in the national championship game versus Alabama, burning their secondary for a 52-yard gain and helping ignite the Bulldogs’ offense. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he possesses prototype NFL size for the position, and also flashes tremendous deep speed. Couple that with the likely losses of both James Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and this pick makes a lot of sense. His measurables will be something to keep an eye on at the combine, and/or the Bulldogs’ Pro Day.
Rounding out their mock, the fourth round selection is Jacksonville State cornerback Joshua Williams, who may sound familiar as Alex Kozora did a profile on him earlier this month. The first ever Senior Bowl invite from his school, Williams is a long-limbed corner at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds. He’s definitely on the team’s radar as well, with scouts from Pittsburgh reportedly attending his fall practices. Albeit raw, he would fill a need, with starting corner Joe Haden an unrestricted free agent, as well as promising acquisition Ahkello Witherspoon. With safety Terrell Edmunds also a free agent, perhaps secondary needs are a bigger priority than most are “mocking”.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.