The 2022 NFL Draft is still a couple of weeks away. I certainly couldn’t blame you if you’re starting to get mock draft fatigue, especially as they become increasingly monotonous. Almost all of the mock drafts at this point have the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting a quarterback in the first round. The only mystery remaining is which quarterback and whether or not they trade up.
As far as the Steelers taking a quarterback is concerned, the ideal realistic scenario would be if the team could draft Liberty’s Malik Willis without having to trade up in the draft in order to do so. In his latest mock draft for Pro Football Focus, Anthony Treash predicts just that scenario to play out. He writes:
Willis tops this quarterback class in terms of tools, as his rushing ability gives him a high floor while his big arm gives him one of the highest ceilings in the class. The Liberty product led the FBS in both PFF rushing grade (94.5) and big-time throw rate (11%) a season ago.
There are concerns about how raw he is as a passer, which makes it very possible he ends up closer to his floor in the long run. He will need to work on his decision-making, pocket presence, accuracy, timing and inconsistency within his platform. He made strides in some of those areas last season, but there is still a long road ahead.
Treash actually has Willis as just the second quarterback off the board, with the Atlanta Falcons taking Desmond Ridder eighth overall. These are arguably the two most polarizing quarterback prospects in the draft this year, coincidentally—or perhaps not. Of course, you only need one team to be a believer.
As a matter of fact, these are the only two arms Treash projects to go in the first round, which I’m betting money on being wrong. There is basically always a run on quarterbacks, and I would expect at least four to be drafted by the end of day one. So, don’t count on this happening.
He does project both the first and the second round, however, so at least in this mock we get a second name to talk about. While the Steelers continue to look for a strong safety, Treash has them finding one in the draft in Penn State’s Jacquan Brisker, writing of him:
Brisker earned three straight 80.0-plus PFF grades from 2019 to 2021. He recorded a couple of interceptions and four pass breakups en route to an 89.5 coverage grade this season. He is a smart player with a high floor.
The Steelers currently have Minkah Fitzpatrick as their only clear starter at safety. Behind him, they have Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew, and the recently re-signed Karl Joseph, plus 2021 college free agent Donovan Stiner, so they could certainly use another safety.
I can’t finish writing about this mock without noting that Treash actually doesn’t have Pitt’s Kenny Pickett being drafted in the first two rounds at all. That seems highly unlikely, and at no point does he offer an explanation for that omission. But I suppose stranger things have happened.