2022 Offseason Questions: Is Mike Tomlin’s Heart Set On QB Malik Willis?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Is Mike Tomlin’s heart set on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis?

Press conferences are a blend of truth and fiction. One thing I often believe to be true, however, is when the Steelers talk about coveting a specific player that they end up drafting, particularly in the first round. It doesn’t happen with every single draft pick. They didn’t hit the roof when they landed Artie Burns or Terrell Edmunds, for example.

They did when they traded up for Devin Bush, though. They were ecstatic when they drafted Najee Harris last year. Cameron Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Jarvis Jones, and Ryan Shazier all felt like ‘the’ pick, as well—the guy that they were going to get if they had a shot at getting him.

So is Malik Willis that guy this year, the quarterback out of Liberty? This is not a question of what you think of the decision—for the purposes of this conversation, for example, it doesn’t matter if you think teams shouldn’t draft running backs in the first round, in the case of Harris. It’s clear they had their hearts set on him.

Are their hearts out for Willis? A lot of people certainly seem to feel that way. They are doing their diligence on every top quarterback prospect that they can manage, but is Willis their guy? Are they willing to do whatever it takes to get him? That’s what you should do if you believe he is your future long-term franchise quarterback.

After all, just look at what the Browns gave up for Deshaun Watson. If you think Willis is your Watson, just about any trade you could make is a relative bargain.

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