The quarterback position in the NFL is the most important one on the team. Without a true franchise guy, a team’s chances of going anywhere are slim to none. Look at the teams in the Super Bowl this year, as both the Rams and the Bengals have their franchise guys. This past week, the division-rival Browns even hitched their wagon to their cornerstone piece in Deshaun Watson. It remains to be seen how the Mitchell Trubisky signing will pay off for the Steelers, but the team obviously has been doing their homework on quarterbacks all offseason. That’s what makes the week ahead so crucial in those efforts, as several of the higher profile quarterbacks in this year’s draft are holding their respective pro days.
The team will look to put those frequent flyer miles to good use this week to get a scope on some of these signal callers but for today, the team can simply wake up, have a nice breakfast and walk down to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, where all eyes will certainly be on Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett. Or maybe the team might only have a small contingency there, as they’ve had an extreme up-close look at him, ten-fold more than any other team the past few years. Playing in the elements of Pittsburgh is not easy, but Pickett has proved not only can he do it, but be highly effective at doing it. He will look to put to bed any questions about his small hand measurements, and look for him to pepper passes to his favorite target, the Fred Biletnikoff Award winner of this past season, wide receiver Jordan Addison.
Perhaps a larger group of team personnel will flock to the Nevada Wolf Pack Pro Day, where Carson Strong should have plenty of interest. Having already met with him at the combine, the biggest questions Strong will likely face are regarding the knee injuries and surgeries he’s had on his right knee, the latest of which came prior to the 2021 season, one in which he appeared as somewhat of a “statue” in the pocket. A first-round talent otherwise, Strong will need to prove that his knee is indeed ready to go.
Tomorrow is likely circled in HUGE red permanent marker on team brass’ calendar, and that’s the showcase of Liberty’s Malik Willis. It would be no shock at all if reports surface at some point this evening of Tomlin and Kevin Colbert out dining at a lavish steak house with Willis and his parents. The team has reportedly been head-over-heels for Willis, dating back to the Senior Bowl. While he showed off his touch and accuracy at the combine, one thing he didn’t do was run the 40. With a reported timing of 4.37 while a sophomore at Auburn (prior to his transfer), it’ll be interesting to see if he puts his speed to the test. A time anywhere near that same neighborhood likely will solidify him being the first QB off the board.
Wednesday and Thursday’s schedule offers two more QB’s with whom the team has met with prior at the NFL Combine, in Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. Corral suffered an ankle injury in the team’s bowl game loss and will have to put those concerns to bed, as his rehab didn’t allow him to work out at the combine. His mobility is an asset, so a 40 time will be key. As for Ridder, he may likely stand on his combine numbers, where his 4.52 in the 40 led all QB’s. He showed off a nice touch on deep balls, so he may opt to simply throw for the scouts and team personnel in attendance.
The Trubisky signing was big news for the team, especially if they can unlock the potential that Chicago couldn’t. It’ll be interesting to see how high on their draft board the position currently is, but odds are they’ll be leaving no stones unturned, and will be in attendance at all of these Pro Days.