Where would Steelers pick in the NFL Draft if the season ended today?
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers would have a quality pick if the season ended right now. Here’s what selection they could end up with in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Steelers aren’t having the best season in 2021. With a loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, one more could drop them from a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs, down to almost nothing, via to FiveThirtyEight.
However, there’s always a bright side. While things may not have gone according to plan this year, Pittsburgh could be sitting pretty in its positioning in the 2022 NFL Draft. According to Tankathon, the Steelers would hold the 15th overall pick if the season ended today.
With the season on the line, this doesn’t seem like something worth getting excited about. However, history shows us that — though Pittsburgh might not stand much of a shot to win a Super Bowl this year — Mike Tomlin’s team could be in a great position to select one of the top talents in next year’s draft if things continue to go south.
Here’s a look at the last five players the Steelers have selected in the NFL Draft when they have a pick in the top half of the first round:
With the exception of Devin Bush (who some aren’t writing off just yet because of his age, upside, and recent ACL injury), the Steelers have hit on four of five picks inside the top sixteen picks over the past two decades — striking gold on a few of them.
Because of this elite draft capital, Kevin Colbert’s team was able to land Hall of Fame players in Troy Polamalu (trade up) and Ben Roethlisberger. Likewise, Ryan Shazier was a two-time Pro Bowler who was on track to be a future All-Pro player in his own right before his career-ending spinal injury.
How high could the Steelers pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?
If the Steelers are able to win 2-3 games in the final four-game stretch, this 15th overall pick might look more like the 17th or 18th overall pick — depending on how things play out with a handful on other teams.
Theoretically, it’s still mathematically possible for Pittsburgh to wind up with a top-five pick next April (albeit, this is very unlikely). However, the Steelers are almost sure to have a top-ten pick if they lose out.
I’m not advocating that tanking is ever the way to go, as the coaching staff obviously wants to keep their jobs and build a winning culture. However, if this team is going to fall short of the tournament, getting elite draft capital could prove to be what’s best for the organization in the long run.
For far too long, the Steelers have been missing out on blue-chip prospects in the NFL Draft, largely because of their late draft position. Picking early doesn’t guarantee them a great player, but it certainly increases the likelihood of finding one.
I’m pulling for the Steelers to turn things around in a hurry, but at least we have something to look forward to if they can’t make the playoffs this year. In a year where they need key players at money positions, as well as a future franchise quarterback, elite draft capital couldn’t come at a better time.