Just over three weeks away from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, the mock draft machine rolls along throughout the draft community.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Todd McShay released his latest two-round mock draft following the blockbuster trade between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, shaking up the first round some. While chaos continues to happen around them, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to do their due diligence at the quarterback position.
Knowing all the work they’ve put in on quarterbacks in the pre-draft process, specifically one in particular, McShay has the Steelers sitting tight at No. 20 overall and landing their guy, grabbing Liberty’s Malik Willis. McShay has Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett off the board at No. 6 overall to the Carolina Panthers, and then doesn’t have a QB coming off the board again until Pittsburgh, with the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and New Orleans Saints passing on QBs.
In steps Pittsburgh for Willis in McShay’s mock.
“All signs are pointing toward Pittsburgh drafting a quarterback, and in this scenario, it doesn’t even have to move up to get one of the top two passers in the class,” McShay writes. “Willis is creative outside the pocket and has a rocket arm, and I actually have him ranked one spot ahead of Kenny Pickett at No. 21 on my board. With Mitch Trubisky on a one-year deal, there’s no rush for Willis to play right away, and coach Mike Tomlin could develop Willis before turning over the keys. The AFC North is stacked at QB, but Willis has the upside to get the Steelers right back in the mix.”
If you watch some of the young stars at QB in the NFL the guy who looks like them the most is @malikwillis
1) Rip throws
2) Snap release (while debunking draft narratives)#NFLLIVE pic.twitter.com/amdeHqh77b
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) April 4, 2022
Every single sign possible this pre-draft process has the Steelers targeting a QB heavily. It’s a good bet that when the first round is over on April 28, the Steelers have a QB that they envision is the next franchise guy in the fold.
Of course, Mitch Trubisky is technically on a two-year deal, not a one-year deal as McShay writes, but the Steelers can certainly get out of Trubisky’s deal right away after 2022 without any residual damage. Ideally, the Steelers land Willis and let him sit the entire season behind Trubisky and Mason Rudolph before taking the reins in 2023.
Following the selection of Willis in the first round, McShay has the Steelers flipping to the defensive side of the football in Round 2, grabbing a Pittsburgh native in Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker at No. 52 overall, giving the Steelers a fast, physical, productive safety that can play in the box.
“Terrell Edmunds could still re-sign in Pittsburgh, but even if he does, Minkah Fitzpatrick is entering the final year of his deal,” McShay writes. “The Steelers could use a talented safety on a cheap contract to protect against losing either or both of them. Brisker is at his best working near the line of scrimmage thanks to above-average tackling skills and great instincts.”
Jaquan Brisker has really had himself a solid season, confidence on display to crash down on this play so aggressively. pic.twitter.com/8rz6nC3CjH
— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) December 6, 2020
Brisker makes a ton of sense as the replacement for Terrell Edmunds, one that would profile very nicely next to Minkah Fitzpatrick for years to come. McShay making a case for Brisker as the pick to protect against possibly losing Fitzpatrick is beyond silly, as the Steelers aren’t going to let that happen.
Regardless, Brisker is a guy that would be a plug-and-play Day 1 starter in the box role in Pittsburgh, assuming health. Of course, he battled injuries his final season at Penn State, but when fully healthy he’s a freakish safety with great range, tackling ability, and a nose for the football overall.
JAQUAN BRISKER ARE YOU KIDDING ME???! pic.twitter.com/IPxaNudv15
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 4, 2021