That the Pittsburgh Steelers might have taken two quarterbacks during the 2022 NFL Draft wasn’t wholly inconceivable. Our own Alex Kozora even projected that they would do just that, including hitting on the seventh-round selection of Chris Oladokun, who as of this writing is on the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad.
They could have just as easily taken Brock Purdy instead, who had an impressive run for the San Francisco 49ers late this season as a starter after they lost first Trey Lance and then Jimmy Garoppolo to injuries before he, too, suffered a UCL injury during the NFC Championship game.
In fact, the Steelers were impressed with Purdy when they met with him at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. He writes that they believed he could even be drafted in the fourth or fifth rounds, much earlier than he went as the last pick in the draft.
And yet they opted for Oladokun, who had a roundabout, pedestrian college career that took him from South Florida to Samford, where he succeeded Duck Hodges, and finally to South Dakota State. He received minimal reps in training camp and then was cut. It is unknown if the Steelers offered him a spot on the practice squad, but he signed with the Chiefs’ practice squad on August 31 and has been there since.
As for Purdy, he was a four-year starter for Iowa State, throwing for over 12,000 yards with 81 touchdowns to 31 interceptions during his college career. He wasn’t much of a runner in terms of dynamic capability and has some obvious limits as a pocket passer, yet he functioned at a high level in Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense.
In five regular season starts, plus extended action in one other, Purdy went 114-for-170 passing for 1308 yards with 13 touchdown passes to three interceptions with a 112 passer rating. He also had one rushing touchdown.
He threw for three touchdowns, going 18-for-30 for 332 passing yards, in the Wildcard Round game against the Seattle Seahawks in a 41-23 win. While he didn’t find the end zone in the Divisional Round, he still threw for 214 yards on 19-for-29 passing in a 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Purdy’s postseason run ended prematurely after four passing attempts (all completions for 23 yards) early in the NFC Championship game last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Though he reportedly suffered a torn UCL, he was forced to return to the game late after the 49ers’ backup, Josh Johnson, had to exit with a concussion.
Hindsight makes it glaringly obvious that the Steelers would have been better off drafting Purdy, or at least that is what the results of year one show, although given the fact that they hardly even gave Oladokun serious consideration, already locked into Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph as their three quarterbacks, perhaps Purdy would have wound up on the Chiefs’ practice squad instead. At least he would have a chance for a Super Bowl ring.