Steelers select flashy QB in first round of recent 2022 NFL mock draft

Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are desperate to find their next franchise quarterback. Here’s why PFF has them taking a QB out of the usual mold in their recent 2022 NFL mock draft.

Before Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, the easy thing to do was to mock a quarterback to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round this year. Now with their draft position locked in with the 20th overall selection this April and Big Ben officially retired, quarterback is still a position that makes a ton of sense for this team.

Though Pittsburgh is expected to bring back third-string QB Dwayne Haskins this year, Mason Rudolph is currently the only quarterback the Steelers have under contract for the 2022 season. While the team could look for a veteran option, this is a weak group of free agents, and no available player has the upside to be a franchise QB for this team.

Recently, Pro Football Focus yet again projected a quarterback to the Steelers with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This time, however, it was Ole Miss QB Matt Corral who lands in Pittsburgh. Here’s what Sam Monson had to say about the selection:

"20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: QB MATT CORRAL, OLE MISSThe Steelers can’t go into the 2022 NFL season with Mason Rudolph as the starting quarterback, and they don’t necessarily have the ammunition to get into a trade auction for veteran superstars who may be available. Inevitably, they may have to just grab the best quarterback available when their pick comes up in the draft.Corral’s best season was 2020, where he earned a 90.5 PFF grade, but he cut down on turnover-worthy plays in 2021, slashing his rate of those plays from 3.8% to just 2.0%. Corral will be the top quarterback on some draft boards."

Early in the draft process, Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell seem to be the favorites mocked to the Steelers, but you don’t see many that have them taking Corral. Though he would go against several draft trends, I can see the intrigue for the Steelers taking a flashy quarterback who strays far from their typical standards.

Corral not the usual Steelers QB type

Mike Tomlin has stressed the importance of being mobile at the quarterback position in today’s NFL, but Matt Corral would be an outlier based on the signal-callers Pittsburgh has targeted in the past.

Over the years, the Steelers have had a ‘type’ they typically look for at the quarterback position — whether through the draft or free agency. Players like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs, Mason Rudolph, and Dwayne Haskins all had something in common: each QB was at least 6’3” and upwards of 215 pounds.

While Dobbs was certainly mobile, he was also much bigger than Corral. Listed at 6’1” and 205 pounds, Corral would be a complete outlier to the size requirements the Steelers typically look for at the quarterback position, and it would be interesting to see if Pittsburgh will entertain drafting someone in the first round who clearly falls short in this metric.

For what it’s worth, I think the Steelers would be wise to start breaking some of their outdated trends. Smaller quarterbacks have had great success in the NFL recently, and they shouldn’t pigeonhole themselves into finding a big-bodied player at the position.

This isn’t to say that Matt Corral is guaranteed to be a success, but he’s got some traits worth gambling on. Though he’s on the small side, Corral has plenty of velocity and arm strength to go with good accuracy, and his mobility will be excellent — even by NFL standards.

Corral helped boost his team to a 10-win season in the SEC in 2021. This has only happened two other times since 1971, according to Sports Reference. He shows the poise and ability to take over games that are required of a franchise quarterback.

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Perhaps the Steelers don’t take a quarterback at all this year and wait to fill the void down the road, but I don’t have an issue with them taking a flashy QB who’s not cut from the same mold as the passers they have taken in the past. The game is changing and Pittsburgh needs to be prepared to make changes to their draft trends too.