With the NFL offseason now in full effect, all eyes shift to free agency and the draft. It’s somewhat of a dark period for the average football fan, with the Steelers’ hiring yesterday of Brian Flores as senior defensive assistant sending shockwaves throughout the league. Even many are looking forward to the USFL draft and debut, it’s that bland right now in the football realm. It’s also “mock draft season” where the whos’ who of sports analysts and bloggers take their shots at playing NFL GM’s, offering up their two cents of who’s picking who.
For Steelers fans, it’s very simple to connect the dots between the major team needs like quarterback and offensive line, and correlating them to their favorites at those respective positions. However, in the event of Liberty’s electrifying quarterback Malik Willis, there’s a little more to it than that. At the recent Senior Bowl, Coach Tomlin and company were speculated to be a bit flirtatious with Willis.
Couple that with Tomlin’s public sentiment in regards to the team’s next signal caller possessing some athleticism, and again, it’s not easy to connect the two, which is exactly what Pro Football Network’s latest two-round mock draft has done. Whether or not Willis is even around at pick #20 remains to be seen, especially if he goes to the NFL Combine and lights it up with a reported 4.37 40-yard dash from his Auburn days. The website had this to say of the selection:
“The Steelers were in the front row for the Malik Willis show at the Senior Bowl. Willis would be a complete 180 from Ben Roethlisberger physically. He is a legitimate rushing threat from the position with possibly the highest upside in the class. His decision-making can be concerning, but with an NFL cast of weapons and coaching, I believe Mike Tomlin and Co. could get the most from Willis.”
If the team is as infatuated with Willis as they seem to be, a trade up to secure his services may be necessary.
In the second round, the website has the team circling back around to check off another box on the grocery list, as they mocked offensive tackle Max Mitchell of Louisiana-Lafayette to Pittsburgh. At 6’6” and 299 pounds, an NFL.com prospect report lauded him for his toughness, one thing that the Steelers could certainly use along the line. They also note his versatility and leadership qualities, having experience at both left and right tackle.
More film will need to be checked out on him, as he’s certainly not a big name, but much like Willis’ case, perhaps the upcoming NFL Combine as well as pro days will potentially reveal a diamond-in-the-rough-type player in Mitchell. Let me know your thoughts below on these two potential fits.