The 2022 NFL Draft begins tonight, and the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the 20th selection in the first round as we sit here. While it’s possible that they will trade up, or even down, it’s more likely that they don’t, and sit tight at where they are. Many believe the player they ultimately draft will be a quarterback, but it’s far from a sure bet.
That’s the takeaway from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, who shared that sentiment in a late Insider article with Dan Graziano detailing some last-minute draft notes. There is a segment on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis that delves in what Fowler has heard around the league about Pittsburgh’s plans for their first-round pick—and it’s a bit all over the map.
“Pittsburgh’s quarterback intentions have been all over the map (welcome to draft season)”, he wrote. “Some believe they like Willis, others say Kenny Pickett (Pitt) would be their guy, but the majority leans toward Pittsburgh going with a different ‘need” position at No. 20, such as defensive or offensive line or corner”.
We’ve already known about this variability, but I do think it’s interesting that he said the majority of connections he’s made lean toward the Steelers drafting a position other than quarterback. At the very least, it certainly contradicts the plethora of mock drafts, yet some prominent local beat writers have held that position for a while as well.
In the past week or so, we have indeed seen reports that, for example, Pickett is the only quarterback the Steelers are sold on, while other reports indicate that Willis is their guy. It’s entirely possible that neither of them will even be attainable in the first place, so they may be forced to draft a non-quarterback regardless of their intentions.
There is plenty of help to be found at wide receiver, at safety, at cornerback, along the defensive line, and along the offensive line as well. It’s extremely unlikely that they would give any thought to a running back or tight end in the first round, but a linebacker (inside or outside) should not be disregarded.
This is a pretty wide open draft both on the micro and macro levels. There isn’t a huge gap in the talent blocks in this draft pool, and the Steelers also have enough ‘want’ positions where that shouldn’t strongly factor into their decision.
Maybe I’ll end up looking dumb by the end of the night, but personally speaking, as this process has worn on, I’ve become less convinced that their plan is to do what it takes to land a quarterback. I’m not even fully convinced that they will draft Willis or Pickett at 20. But the good news is that we will finally know for sure, tonight.