It’s now time for me to release the final version of my Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 mock draft and If you missed by previous versions I posted, you can find them at the link included below.
As usual, I have adhered to several historical principles related to past Steelers drafts when putting my final mock together. One of those is making sure I pay close attention to players who played in or were invited to the annual college all-star games as we’ve seen the Steelers draft quite a few of those non-underclassmen players from various rounds over the years. Obviously, our annual pro day tracker was closely followed in addition to the reports of which players had meetings with the Steelers.
In addition to providing my guess for every round, I also included four other players I considered while building this last mock so you can see where my head was at while putting this final one together. As usual, my primary goal is to have several of the 40 total players listed below ultimately wind up being selected by the Steelers.
Due to me being so busy with the site once again this year and being quite sick on top of it all, I only managed to do two mock drafts this year. I will try to do more next year.
I invite everyone to post their final mocks in the comments below and hope all of you enjoyed our pre-draft coverage this year. We look forward to covering the real thing for you beginning Thursday evening.
DISCLAIMER: As usual, this is what I think the Steelers will do in the draft, not what I would do.
Previous Mock Draft:
Bryan: 2022 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 1.0 – Mid-Pro Days
1st Round (20th Overall) — QB Malik Willis — Liberty —
I have had the Steelers married to Willis for nearly all of the offseason and especially since the Senior Bowl took place in Mobile, AL. I have stated all offseason that I will need a good reason to come off thinking that Willis will be the Steelers first round selection this year. To date, I have not found such a good reason. Will the steelers need to trade up to get Willis? It’s possible, and they just might do that. On the other hand, Willis being super raw and in a watered-down quarterback class and might cause his to slip to the Steelers at 20th overall, or at least very close to that spot to warrant a small jump up the board for a smaller cost. I’m not sure how it ultimately happens, but my gut has told me all along that Willis will be the Steelers first round selection this year. I think he’s the apple of the organization’s eye this offseason. Obviously, Willis is far from a finished product and any team that drafts him will be doing so with the hope that they can get him to his projected ceiling, which is a long way from his play the last two seasons at Liberty. The steelers have the perfect organization when it comes to being able to nurture Willis along and not rush him onto the field as a rookie. Should the Steelers ultimately not draft Willis, I get the sense that they will still draft one of the other top four quarterbacks in this year’s class. If they do go outside of the quarterback position, I really won’t be surprised if their selection is Georgia safety Lewis Cine.
Others Considered: QB Kenny Pickett, QB Sam Howell, QB Matt Corral, QB Desmond Ridder, S Lewis Cine
College Bio: https://www.liberty.edu/flames/player/malik-willis/
Draft Profile: 2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Liberty QB Malik Willis
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21035
2nd Round (52nd Overall) — WR George Pickens — Georgia —
The Steelers certainly could use a versatile wide receiver in this draft after failing to draft any wide receivers last year. Pickens is that kind of versatile wide receiver having played the X, Z and Y positions during his college career. Pickens is coming off an ACL injury in 2021 and that will likely scare away some teams. Additionally, there seems to be some minor character concerns when it comes to Pickens but no real red flags. The Steelers brought the house to the Georgia’s pro day this year with new wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson being one of those several in attendance. Jackson put Pickens through his pro day workout so that’s also notable. This year’s draft class is loaded with wide receivers and that’s also a reason to think that Pickens might fall some. He had less than 100 receptions for his college career and that might be yet another reason that Pickens falls right into the Steelers’ lap. He’s raw just like wide receiver Martavis Bryant was several years ago. That said, Pickens probably has the highest ceiling of all the wide receivers in this year’s draft class and especially if he can fine tune his route running.
Others Considered: S Jaquan Brisker WR Skyy Moore, OLB Boye Mafe, DE Demarvin Leal, WR Jahan Dotson
College Bio: https://georgiadogs.com/sports/football/roster/george-pickens/5457
Draft Profile: 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Georgia WR George Pickens
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21465&pos=WR
3rd Round (84th Overall) — S Nick Cross — Maryland —
The Steelers just recently re-signed free agent safety Terrell Edmunds but even so, there’s still a good chance that they address the strong safety position at some point during the draft. Enter Cross, who is very easy to connect to the Steelers. Not only does Cross meet the criteria for what the Steelers look for in their safeties when it comes to measurables, he checks virtually all the boxes. He was also college roommates at Maryland for a bit with Dino Tomlin, son of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. He’s one of the youngest players in this year’s draft class at still well under 21 years old. He is a raw, yet position versatile player, and will certainly need time to develop and become more consistent. With Edmunds now back in the fold on a one-year deal, Cross could potentially be a sub-package player on defense sooner rather than later during his rookie season with the plan for him to become the team’s starter alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick later in 2022 or in 2023. There are like three safeties in this draft that really fit the Steelers well and Cross is one of them.
Others Considered: OLB Drake Jackson, OLB Nik Bonitto, CB Cobie Durant, OLB DeAngelo Malone, CB Marcus Jones
College Bio: https://umterps.com/sports/football/roster/nick-cross/9422
Draft Profile: 2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Maryland S Nick Cross
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21444&pos=SS
4th Round (138th Overall) — OLB Jeffrey Gunter — Coastal Carolina —
The Steelers could certainly use another young edge rusher in this year’s draft, one with upside that can also start out playing a little on special teams as a rookie. Gunter was a Shrine Bowl participant this year and that’s one box checked for him. As a rookie, Gunter figures to be a player the Steelers could use on special teams as well as a depth player at the outside linebacker position behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. He has nice RAS numbers from the combine and is sure to be on the Steelers radar as an all-star game participant. He missed checking just one box in the measurable category and that was his 3-cone time that just missed by .01-second. Might Gunter be the Steelers next Highsmith? It’s possible. He played on his feet some in college and that is also a plus. For his college career, Gunter registered 174 total tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, nine forced fumbles, five passes defensed and one interception.
Others Considered: WR Danny Gray, RB Pierre Strong, CB Alontae Taylor, CB Damarri Mathis, WR Bo Melton
College Bio: https://goccusports.com/sports/football/roster/jeffrey-gunter/16982
Draft Profile: 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Coastal Carolina EDGE Jeffrey Gunter
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21174&pos=DE
6th Round (208th Overall) — CB Mario Goodrich — Clemson —
Goodrich is the other Clemson cornerback in this draft class and one that just might have the Steelers’ interest. He’s long and the steelers will like that about him. As for his combine weight, it looks like he gained it back for his pro day. He did not test overly well at the combine or the pro day and especially in the 40-yard dash. The reason for that seems to be that he was dealing with a rib injury. Goodrich was at the Senior Bowl this year and that’s something else that will be attractive to the steelers. Oh, he was a captain last season as well. Goodrich is certainly a developmental cornerback in this year’s draft class and the Steelers could take a flyer on him late if he’s still on the board in the sixth round. The steelers sent a large contingent to the Clemson pro day this year so there’s that as well. For his college career, Goodrich registered 84 total tackles, five interceptions, 20 passes defensed and one forced fumble.
Others Considered: RB Ty Chandler, RB Hassan Haskins, DE Eric Johnson, DE John Ridgeway, CB Chase Lucas
College Bio: https://clemsontigers.com/sports/football/roster/mario-goodrich/
Draft Profile: 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Clemson CB Mario Goodrich
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21064&pos=CB
7th Round (225th Overall) — DE Jayden Peevy — Texas A&M —
The Steelers might could use another young defensive end in this year’s draft if Stephon Tuitt decides he no longer wants to play football. The Steelers had defensive line coach Karl Dunbar at the Texas A&M pro day this year. While fellow Texas A&M defensive lineman DE Demarvin Leal was likely the main draw for Dunbar, Peevy was likely worth looking at as well. Peevy has the build and measurables the Steelers look for. He was at the NFLPA Bowl this year and that counts for something. He also registered 137 total tackles and 7.5 sacks during his college career to go along with 19 total tackles for loss. The big defensive lineman was also credited with one forced fumble, eight passes defensed and one interception. If the Steelers choose to go defensive line late in 2022 NFL Draft, don’t discount Peevy as a possible option.
Others Considered: DE Matthew Butler, WR Justyn Ross, WR Dontario Drummond, OLB Jesse Luketa, CB Josh Thompson
College Bio: https://12thman.com/sports/football/roster/jayden-peevy/9863
Draft Profile: 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Texas A&M DT Jayden Peevy
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21290
7th Round (241st Overall) — FB/HB/RB Connor Heyward — Michigan State
Yes, yet another carryover from my first mock and once again, you knew I would find a way to get Heyward in my final one. He is of course the younger brother of Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward. As I previously wrote, while officially listed by most as a tight end, the younger Heyward is more of a hybrid player. He can function as a lead blocking fullback, H-back, ball carrier, flex tight end, and even occasionally as an end-of-the-line tight end in the right situations. He’s a Swiss Army knife player and can even function as a core special teams player. After 2022, the Steelers might be through with fullback Derek Watt, and if that’s the case, the younger Heyward should be able to assume that role after possibly spending his rookie season on the practice squad. For his college career, Heyward registered 211 rushes for 825 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught 96 passes for another 711 yards and six touchdowns. That’s over 307 total touches at the college level and in the Big 10 at that. It’s easy to picture him as a late round Steelers draft pick this year for a lot of obvious reasons.
Others Considered: RB Isaih Pacheco, QB Chris Oladokun, WR Isaiah Weston, WR Deven Thompkins, T Matt Waletzko
College Bio: https://msuspartans.com/sports/football/roster/connor-heyward/11228
Draft Profile: 2022 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Michigan State H-Back Connor Heyward
RAS Profile: https://ras.football/ras-information/?PlayerID=21091&pos=FB