If you’ve hung around the site during draft season, caught a podcast, follow us on Twitter, you know when this time of year rolls around, we stress the importance of one thing. The Pro Days Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert visit carry a direct correlation to who will be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round pick. Every first-round selection since 2010, Maurkice Pouncey through Najee Harris, has had one or both of Tomlin/Colbert personally attend their workout. We can confirm, by the way, neither were there for Ziggy Hood’s 2009 Pro Day. Maybe they should’ve been.
Later this week or next, we’ll have a detailed report on our 2022 Steelers’ Pro Day tracker. But for the moment, I wanted to focus on Tomlin and Colbert and which players are on that short-list of first round possibility.
Here are the Pro Days Tomlin and/or Colbert were spotted at this year: Georgia, Clemson, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Liberty, Ole Miss, Notre Dame*, NC State, Duke, Cincinnati, and LSU.
Quick note on Notre Dame. Reason for the asterisk is though it was credibly reported Kevin Colbert was there, we never actually saw him in attendance. So that one remains a little murky.
With that list on the table, who are the first-round picks who would realistically be available when the Steelers pick at #20? Here’s that all important short list.
George Pickens/WR Georgia
Nakobe Dean/LB Georgia
Christian Harris/LB Alabama
Devonte Wyatt/DL Georgia
Lewis Cine/S Georgia
Daxton Hill/S Michigan
Andrew Booth/CB Clemson
Kenny Pickett/QB Pitt
Malik Willis/QB Liberty
Matt Corral/QB Ole Miss
Desmond Ridder/QB Cincinnati
Sam Howell/QB North Carolina
A solid list of twelve names. You could argue others like Georgia NT Jordan Davis and LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr., but it’s unlikely either will be available come pick #20. Even Tomlin admitted Davis would be hugging Roger Goodell by then. Ditto for Stingley and even Alabama WR Jameson Williams, Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardner, and Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton. Willis may also not last, but if there’s a player and position the team would be willing to trade up for, it’s a quarterback and a guy like him.
You could argue Pickens shouldn’t be considered this high, but I wanted to be as inclusive here as possible. Pittsburgh’s certainly surprised in Round 1 before and they showed plenty of interest in Pickens, sending WRs Coach Frisman Jackson to work him out at his Pro Day. Ditto with Harris though he seems less likely and could easily lop him off the list.
Of course, this list is dominated by quarterbacks. All five of the top names are on the table and check every box “required” to be a Steelers’ first-round pick. Willis may be considered the frontrunner but behind him, there’s no clear consensus on how the organization could rank their board.
The final five names come on the defensive side of the ball. Wyatt seems unlikely but can’t be ruled out, and Booth’s injury and the Steelers’ lack of supreme need at the position also makes him a less likely choice. The final names come at safety with Cine and Hill. Two names who have flown under the radar but hit every box. Athletic, productive safeties from the Power 5 at positions of need. So don’t rule those two out and they might be the two most likely choices if the Steelers don’t draft a QB in the first round. The five quarterbacks, two safeties, and Pickens make up a “most likely” type of shortlist.