The 2022 NFL Draft is now less than 24 hours away. By this point, everyone is probably sick of looking at mock drafts. But to pass the time, it’s worth looking at a few more, including the final mock from NFL.com’s lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, which was released Wednesday night. In it, he has the Pittsburgh Steelers taking Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett at No. 20 overall. It would be the first quarterback off the board in this scenario, meaning out of all five quarterbacks the Steelers met with, they would select the one that already knows the ins and outs of their facility.
It wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to hear commissioner Roger Goodell call out a quarterback as Pittsburgh’s first selection. With how much time and effort Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin put into vetting them, it’s clear they are interested in bringing one in to compete with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. Not to mention the fact that it was way too easy for the Steelers to see Pickett up close and personal for the last few years in order to figure out what makes him tick. Pickett has been touted as the most pro-ready by plenty of NFL draft experts.
“The Steelers should know everything there is to know about Pickett, the former Pitt star,” Jeremiah wrote. “He could come right in and compete with Mitchell Trubisky for the starting position this fall.”
It’s a definite switch-up from Jeremiah, who had the Steelers taking LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. in his last mock draft released in the final week of March. That looks like a pipe dream at this point with ample reports coming out that Stingley could very well be a top 10 pick. Looking at the rest of his first round, the only other quarterback to come off the board is Liberty’s Malik Willis, who goes No. 32 overall to the Detroit Lions.
As for what the Steelers are searching for in a first round quarterback, Tomlin would prefer someone who is ultra competitive while playing the position. That certainly describes Pickett, who led the Pittsburgh Panthers to double-digit wins for the first time since 2009 and capped it off with an ACC title.
It all of course hinges on the fact that teams like the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks all choose to shy away from adding a quarterback in this class. If that happens, the Steelers would get to not only select a player who they believe can be the future of the franchise, but they don’t have to surrender any draft capital to do so.