National media mock drafts have seemingly all agreed the Pittsburgh Steelers will take a quarterback in round one, a question of when and how instead of if. Read a new one and the question comes down to: is this mock draft projected the Steelers trade up for one or not?
In Yahoo!’s latest mock draft, Pittsburgh stays at #20 and gets their guy. Eric Edholm released his latest mock Thursday and has the team selecting North Carolina QB Sam Howell as Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement.
“If one of the tackles listed above were still on the board, we might have changed directions; that remains a big need. But so is QB, and outgoing GM Kevin Colbert had to be impressed with Howell’s second-half performance at Heinz Field in the rain last season. With three QBs off the board, the Steelers might have to pounce this early.”
Howell is the fourth quarterback off the board in Edholm’s mock behind Malik Willis (#6), Kenny Pickett (#9), and Matt Corral (#11) all off the board by the time the Steelers turn their card in. Being the fourth quarterback off the board is roughly where Howell is projected to go, fighting with the likes of Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Nevada’s Carson Strong in that Tier 2 of this overall underwhelming quarterback class.
As Edholm mentions, Howell rallied the Tar Heels from a 23-7 deficit in Pittsburgh against the Panthers this past season. Howell threw a pair of touchdowns in the game and got the offense in gear after struggling for much of the first half. They took the game into overtime where Pitt won in part thanks to a heavy rain that picked up as soon as UNC got the ball.
The mock also at least acknowledges other needs the team has. Offensive tackle will be one of them if RT Chukwuma Okorafor isn’t re-signed. The only other in-house options are Zach Banner, who has struggled to see the field over his career and veteran swingman Joe Haeg, much better served in a backup role. But the top tackles are off the board, like Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and even center Tyler Linderbaum is gone one pick ahead at #19.
If you missed it, check out our complete scouting report on Howell.