Pittsburgh Steelers go quarterback early in latest 2022 NFL mock draft
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be in need of a new quarterback soon. Here’s where Draft Wire has them going in their latest 2022 NFL mock draft.
For Steelers fans, the focus is all about the here-and-now. It makes sense as to why. Pittsburgh has been riding a Super Bowl window under Ben Roethlisberger for close to two decades now, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback will go down as one of the best players to ever wear the black and gold when his career is finished.
That time appears to be coming very soon. In an effort to play one more season with the team that drafted him, Roethlisberger took a pay cut in 2021 and reworked his deal that now includes voidable years beyond the upcoming season.
The 39-year-old quarterback has clearly shown signs of decline in recent years, and the last six games of the 2020 season were the worst stretch of contests in his NFL career.
While many fans believe the team already has its next franchise quarterback on the roster in either Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins, I am skeptical at best when it comes to this. Both Rudolph and Haskins have proved to be exactly what I thought they would be in the NFL so far, and neither has impressive enough tools or ability to make plays for me to think that this is who the Steelers will stick with when Big Ben hangs it up.
Recently, Luke Esterling of USA Today’s Draft Wire comprised a two-round 2022 NFL mock draft. It wasn’t shocking to see him pencil in a quarterback to the Steelers, but the player he chose was a bit surprising. With the 14th overall pick in Esterling’s mock, he has Pittsburgh going with Nevada quarterback, Carson Strong.
Would Steelers really consider Carson Strong in round one?
I have had the chance to watch some Carson Strong tape from last season. While his statistical production was undeniably impressive, it’s really hard for me to get behind him as a prospect who should be taken this high in the NFL Draft.
When I look at Carson Strong, I see a smart, young football player with good poise and accuracy on short and intermediate routes. However, Strong is lacking some traits that I hope are requirements for Pittsburgh’s next franchise quarterback.
For starters, Strong doesn’t have a great arm. In terms of NFL standards, it would be considered below-average, from my assessment. Though he can get the ball down the field, it takes a lot of effort to drive the ball as far as he wants it to go. In addition, Strong is a subpar athlete with below-average movement skills and is no threat to run the football.
Being able to take off and run with the rock in today’s NFL isn’t a requirement, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. However, Strong’s film suggests that he may not even possess enough athleticism to get outside the pocket and extend the play. As an athlete, he probably compares favorably to former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (albeit a less talented version).
If the Steelers are set on getting a quarterback next year, I believe it would be a much better idea to trade up and get a passer with much more upside to be one the best quarterbacks in the league. Two players that I would love to be in contention are Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. Both quarterbacks are just 20 years old and were quite impressive last year. They are more athletic with bigger arms and the ability to extend the play and complete passes downfield at a high level.
In the second round of Esterling’s mock draft, he has the Steelers beefing up the offensive line with mammoth Washington State offensive tackle, Abraham Lucus. If they are to draft a quarterback with their first pick next season, this selection would make a lot of sense.
In my opinion, the Steelers can’t settle for another middling quarterback like Carson Strong. Fortunately, this is just a mock draft, and things have the potential to go much better for them next April. It will be interesting to see which pick they finish with by the end of the season and what they are able to do in the NFL Draft.