Monday Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers – Way Too Early?

Team needs & why:

OT

  • 31st lowest total spending on OL in NFL
  • Run game to the left has been poor
  • Build from the trenches

CB

  • Defensive scheme thrives with lockdown corners
  • Every CB is only under contract through 2024 or sooner
  • Deep CB draft class

DL

  • Alualu, Wormley, Heyward all 30+ years old
  • Defensive scheme needs deep rotation
  • Build from the trenches

First idea:

Invest in the trenches early like they did ten years ago, and find an aggressive player to handle isolated coverage.

Peter Skoronski

Emmanuel Forbes

Siaki Ika

Will McDonald IV

Second Idea:

Follow the Steeler way and follow the family ties from Joey Porter to his lockdown, uber talented son. Then overhaul the offensive line (and you can never have too many Pickens).

Joey Porter Jr.

Broderick Jones

O’Cyrus Torrence

Zacch Pickens

Third Idea:

Draft the best overall player available, taking physical attributes, positional value and potential productivity into consideration.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Mock Draft: Important Pieces Everywhere

Round 1, Pick 20

Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M

Every single position on the Steelers offensive line could use an upgrade, so it would be wise to draft a lineman that has logged 35 college starts including every position other than center. Green has strong legs that allow him to move quickly and play with great strength, making him an asset on any run play.

This K. Green is a lot more promising than last years K. Green, and it wouldn’t take long for fans to see the impact he would have, benefitting N. Harris and making the job easier for whoever they have at QB.

Green has the athleticism and physical temperament to become an instant starter…

The Draft Network

Round 2, Pick 52

Damone Clark, LB, LSU

Last year’s poor run defense was a fault of many, however the inside linebackers rarely held up their end of the bargain. Clark plays with tremendous speed and instinct, racking up over 100 tackles and five sacks last season.

Additionally, he has the athleticism and tenacity to become a viable pass rusher, which could add a unique blend to his game, similar (but not to the magnitude) to M. Parsons for the Cowboys.

He uses his athletic traits to track and pursue ball-carriers and is a big reason why he ranks amongst the top in the nation in tackles for the 2021 football season.

The Draft Network

Round 3, Pick 84

Marcus Jones, CB, Houston

As of now, it is unknown how the Steelers will address free agent CB’s J. Haden and A. Witherspoon. I think at least one of them will leave, so grabbing much needed depth at a valuable position would be the right choice.

Jones is good in man coverage and has traits like length and instinct that make him a candidate for special teams and special assignments like slot covering or playing different sides of the ball. Yes, last season he got work in at WR and he didn’t look too bad. He could also be used as a kickoff or punt returner pending what happens elsewhere at the position.

Jones has the hips and feet to cover slippery slot receivers and the ballhawking instincts to make plays from zone

Lance Zierlein, NFL Draft Analyst

Round 4, Pick 137

Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan

Now I know the RB in Pittsburgh is among the leagues best young stars, however the usage rate Najee Harris received last year was too much for him to sustain a ten plus year career. To put the cherry on top, backup RB’s B. Snell and K. Ballage were nothing more than bad last season.

Haskins runs with a fierce demeanor and has exceled at many positions and roles on a football field. Steelers have been linked to Michigan players for quite some time now, and I think they take an extremely solid RB to spell Harris.

Tack on his receiving upside, ball security, and his blocking utility, as well as his special teams experience, and you’re looking at a safe Day 3 pick.

Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network – Draft Analyst

The BEST Player for The next Pittsburgh Steelers starting QB

Mason Rudolph? Marcus Mariota? Jimmy Garoppolo? Jameis Winston? Or a rookie…

QB Ben Roethlisberger gave 18 hall of fame seasons to the Steelers, and replacing him will likely be the hardest replacement ever for the franchise. The realistic options for next year’s starting QB job in Pittsburgh are as follows and NOT in any order:

  • Kenny Pickett
  • Malik Willis
  • Sam Howell
  • Matt Corral
  • Mason Rudolph
  • Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Jameis Winston
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Russell Wilson

Here is how some of these QB’s compare in their last ten games started (Mason Rudolph’s sample size):

Players on these graphs are used as reference points and comparison; sorted from lowest QB rating (Rudolph) to highest (Burrow – good standard for franchise QB).
These two graphs together show a clear difference between what the Steelers’ options are and what they’re looking for.

This list has some talented QB’s and some not so talented QB’s. The craziest thing is that I think the best player for the job is one of the lesser talented names on the entire list… Factoring in everything that the Steelers front office should (like contract, familiarity, and draft capital) the best QB for the Steelers in 2022 is…

Odds provided by OddsChecker.

1- Mason Rudolph (+250)

This will make someone rage click off this page I’m sure of it. But hear me out; Rudolph has one of the best things an NFL team could ask for – a QB on a rookie deal. The resources saved by locking in Rudolph as next years starter could and should be used to acquire smaller pieces for a roster that desperately needs better pieces.

Not only that, but the Steelers (and most teams) will not be jumping at the opportunity to take more risk than they have to. Rudolph has shown the staff and fans everything that he can and cannot do on the football field with the current offense, which should make it possible to game plan around his strengths and weaknesses. Whereas bringing in anyone will require somewhat of an adjustment and the QB performance might be negatively affected as a result.

2- Mitchell Trubisky (+1600)

Again, I’m probably not making a bunch of sense right now. But hear me out again; Trubisky just sat one year behind arguably the most talented QB in the world right now. The graph at the beginning shows one thing; his statistics look better than the others, namely his combination of rush yards per game, total touchdowns, completion percentage and touchdown percentage.

Based on current contract values, Trubisky will be cheaper than M. Mariota, J. Winston, A. Dalton and T. Bridgewater. He satisfies Tomlin’s desire for a mobile QB while actually improving the overall effectiveness of the offense, compared to Big Ben or Mason Rudolph.

3- Jameis Winston (+900)

Probably the most expensive name on the free agent list, I believe Winston can build off of his productive half-year in New Orleans. The stats don’t lie, and they tell us that Winston is truly the ‘all or nothing’ type of QB with a great ability to score touchdowns…and also the ability to ‘waste a pass’ (interception or incompletion).

That’s not exactly what the Steelers would sign him to be though, as he grew more patient and anticipated better throughout his time in New Orleans. He would only be brought in if other big upgrades were made to positions like WR and OL.

4- Malik Willis (+1400)

Here’s the first rookie, finally! The reason I don’t have any rookie higher than four is because I don’t think the better QB’s in the class will be available at pick 20, and I don’t see PIT trading up for any of them.

However if they did trade up, to get Willis, it would probably not be to sit him for a year, right? I would have to assume given his potential that they’re able to design an offense that he’s able to adapt to considering the offensive scheme they tried to run with the total opposite QB of Willis (Big Ben).

5- Sam Howell (+1800)

Oh another rookie? This rookie is (probably) the most pro-ready QB in the class, given his accuracy, experience and athleticism. Although I don’t like to put too much weight on this; Kevin Colbert and the scouting department have watched Sam Howell the most throughout the season/off-season. A real possibility could be the top five lineman are gone and the top two or three QB’s are gone, in either case might prompt PIT to draft Howell for safety and needs.

6- Marcus Mariota (+1300)

Mariota is probably dying to get the chance to start again, but even if he were to come to PIT, something tells me it would still be a battle between him and Rudolph for the entirety of preseason.

Although he could help boost the running game with his mobility, he hasn’t gotten the chance to do that in a while and his speed/elusiveness may be on the decline given his age. However, he has shown the ability to take care of the football and that could prove to be all a team needs from their QB.

7- Jimmy Garoppolo (+750)

Garoppolo has been discussed the most heavily in connection with PIT’s starting QB next season (at least among free agents). While he might have the innate ability to pull out wins and command a powerful offense, it isn’t as clear how much of that was because of him, rather than despite him. The price tag and expectations would far exceed the offensive productivity with him and the current scheme.

8- Matt Corral (+1200)

I won’t lie I think Corral would be fun to watch in PIT. He’d likely use his legs as much as he needed, and that in itself would give the offense a different type of style for the foreseeable future. Not sure how serious his injury is, but even if he’s fully healthy he doesn’t have the most prototypical frame of an NFL QB and will likely undergo A LOT of pressure if PIT drafts him in the first round. If it happens I wouldn’t surprise if Corral sat behind Rudolph to at least start the season.

9- Russel Wilson (+1200)

Well, Wilson is easily the most proven and valuable QB on this list, and adding an escape artist QB who throws one of the best deep ball passes in the game would instantly make the offense more explosive given their QB immobility last year and lack of deep ball success.

What’s important to keep in mind though is Wilson would cost at least two first-round picks and maybe even a player. The roster isn’t constructed to spend as much as possible on a QB when other pieces are needed yet would be forfeited with the acquisition of Wilson.

10- Kenny Pickett (+900)

Now this is NOT me saying Pickett is the worst QB on this list, please keep that in mind! As it stands now, I’m willing to bet that there’s a 99% chance Pickett gets drafted inside the top-15 and that would mean PIT sacrificing draft capital and/or players to jump up and select him.

I like the chemistry Pickett would have with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, however no amount of chemistry can fix the offensive line that would be in a state of unknown heading into next season, especially if a QB is taken in round one and not a lineman.

There are many paths for the Pittsburgh Steelers to find their next QB, whether it be for one year or the next ten. There are pros and cons to each of their options and a lot of the decisions will likely come down to cost and risk. Mason Rudolph should be the starting QB next year, because he is the lowest-risk option on this list and is also the cheapest while he’s still on his rookie contract.

With that being said, if the objective is to look at the odds and make money on this situation; my bets are going to be placed on Mason Rudolph ($5), Marcus Mariota ($1), and Sam Howell ($1). I wouldn’t take them though until more of the draft process gets going, as that will tell the fans a lot about who is focused on who.

NFL Week One: Three Gotta See Bets

PIT ML (+265)

Most football fans won’t like this pick, but for some reason I can see a lot of value in PIT rallying behind a completely new offensive look and capitalizing on all of the mismatches they are able to create while on offense. BUF has struggled with run defense, and I firmly believe Najee Harris will cement himself as one of the most well rounded running backs in the entire NFL this season. BUF is legit, no doubt about that. But let’s not be so quick to rule out the team with a hall of fame coach, QB, and top five defense, especially with the amount of value we can get here.

TEN -3 (-105)

I was a bit confused to see such a small spread for this game. Last year TEN had one of the most efficient offenses led by Derrick Henry and AJ Brown, leading to the fourth highest scoring percentage in the league at 47.9% to pair with the leagues second best turnover percentage at just 7.2%. To make it better, they added one of the most generational talents the game will see at WR in Julio Jones. Maybe it takes a few weeks for everyone to gel together, but for now I have to assume that the offense is going to remain unstoppable when firing on all cylinders, similar to NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal.

WFT ML (+102)

The Washington Football Team surprised many people last year, including me. On a per drive basis, WSH was in + range for scoring percentage and points per drive, despite not having much of a consistent offensive approach. Ryan Fitzpatrick should have enough help on offense to be more explosive and rewarding than last year, and with their defense being among the leagues best, it’s probably only going to take a few trips to the end zone to determine the winner.

All stats/data pulled during my research comes from Pro Football Reference.

All odds are pulled from a variety of sources including but not limited to: DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, MGM.

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