Final mocks are pouring in from the top major media and draftnik outlets with the real 2022 NFL Draft set to get underway on Thursday in Las Vegas. On Monday, Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus released his final mock draft of 2022, and in it he has the Pittsburgh Steelers trading up in the first round to get a quarterback.
In his final mock Gayle has the Steelers making a trade with the Washington Commanders to move up to the 11th overall spot to draft Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. To go up nine spots, Gayle has the Steelers giving up their first and second round picks in this year’s draft, along with a 2023 third-round pick.
“If Willis falls outside the top 10, Pittsburgh should be on the phones looking to move up ahead of the Saints to ensure it lands the consensus top quarterback in this class. Trading future first-rounders to get to the very top of the draft should be off the table for the Steelers’ brass considering all the risk embedded in Willis’ profile, but this year’s second-rounder (No. 52) and a future third are much more palatable.”
It certainly isn’t a shock to me to see Gayle mocking Willis to the Steelers via a trade up. With so many draftniks believing that the Steelers have Willis as the apple of their eye, the common belief is also that they will need to trade up in the first round to get him.
Willis has been tightly connected to the Steelers most of the offseason and certainly since the Senior Bowl took place in Mobile back in February. Since then, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada all attended the Liberty Pro Day, and Willis was brought to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit in April.
On Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that several teams in the top half of the first round are looking to trade back. He indicated that the interest in moving back in Thursday’s draft has greatly exceeded the interest in moving up. So, if true, and if the Steelers are indeed looking to trade up several spots in the first round to select Willis, perhaps the cost to do so will be lightened a little.
Expect to see a lot of Willis to the Steelers in the first round in several of these final mock drafts that we’ll be passing along this week. Gayle, by the way, will have another final mock draft of what he would do in the first round if he were each team’s decision-maker. His Monday offering is what he thinks all teams will do.