For the second time in the mock draft cycle for NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, the Pittsburgh Steelers landed their top target at QB.
The last time Schrager released his mock draft on April 7, the NFL Network star analyst had the Steelers landing Liberty QB Malik Willis. Two weeks later, things haven’t changed for Schrager, as the Steelers again land Willis in his mock draft without having to move from No. 20 overall.
“Drafting Willis wouldn’t be an indictment on Mitchell Trubisky, it’d be a move toward the future,” Schrager writes regarding the Steelers’ selection of Willis at No. 20 overall. “May the best man win. Willis, who’d be a value pick at No. 20, has a lot of fans around the league — just not sure there’s one willing to take him in the top 10 at this point.
Much like he did in his first mock draft two weeks ago, Schrager had some interesting takes in the top 10, with Georgia’s Travon Walker as the No. 1 overall selection over Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, along with the likes of Mississippi State offensive lineman Charles Cross coming off the board over Alabama’s Evan Neal at No. 5 to the New York Giants, and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett at No. 6 to the Carolina Panthers as the lone QB in the top 19 picks overall.
That lands Willis with the Steelers at No. 20 for the second straight mock from Schrager, who is historically near the top of the game when it comes to projecting the first round year after year.
“Drafting Willis wouldn’t be an indictment on Mitchell Trubisky, it’d be a move toward the future,” Schrager writes regarding the selection of Willis. “May the best man win. Willis, who’d be a value pick at No. 20, has a lot of fans around the league — just not sure there’s one willing to take him in the top 10 at this point.”
It’s hard to truly envision a quarterback with Willis’ traits falling all the way to No. 20 overall for the Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it is still certainly possible, as the draft is rather unpredictable. That would be the dream scenario for the Steelers, as they clearly like Willis a great deal and would love to add him to the franchise under Mike Tomlin.
Knowing that Willis is a tantalizing prospect, but one that has varying beliefs on him overall, Schrager’s selection of the Liberty star at No. 20 to the Steelers caused quite the discussion for Schrager on Good Morning Football Tuesday, stating that he honestly has no idea where Willis could go overall, calling him the biggest mystery in the draft.
“We’ve fallen in with Malik Willis here on this show, and I think everyone here on the NFL Network loved the Pro Day. I have no place for him right now, with where I think, like, ‘Malik Willis will go here at this point,'” Schrager said, according to video via NFL.com. “He could go as high as two to the Lions, he could go as low as the second round. I have no idea.
“Usually it’s all crystalized with these five teams that are looking at a quarterback, and alright, Willis will go first, or second…Again, I look at eight with Atlanta. They have Marcus Mariota as your quarterback right now, and you’ve got not a lot of talent and you have a coach and GM that are locked up long-term on like deals. Do you take Malik Willis and roll the dice? Or do you take best player available?
“I have no idea where Malik Wilis is going; that’s my biggest mystery,” Schrager added. “I think we all love the player, we all love the kid. I don’t love a landing spot for him right now.”
As a QB with extremely high-ceiling traits, Willis is a prospect that many teams should bet on when it comes to reaching his potential at the most important position in football. That said, today’s NFL is still filled with old-school decision makers, ones that want closer to the sure thing, rather than betting on upside and the potential of what a QB could be.
That is to say that could lead to Willis dropping farther into the first round than he probably should with those traits, which could really open the door for the Steelers to get a guy they’ve spent a significant amount of time with throughout the pre-draft process.