Steelers should sell out for QB C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, but here’s why they would be wise to wait for C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft.
It’s early in the offseason, but already the top NFL Draft analysts around the nation are mocking quarterbacks to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s not hard to see why.
After Ben Roethlisberger disappointed with a lackluster season in which the Steelers managed just 20.2 points per game, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is now officially retired. Most fans have come to the realization that Mason Rudolph nor Dwayne Haskins are the future of this team — that should be evident at this point.
Still, need more proof? Take a look around the AFC. In recent weeks, we have witnessed some spectacular quarterback play in the American Football Conference, and there’s no reason to expect these guys to be going away any time soon.
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen were phenomenal in their divisional playoff game on January 23rd. They will be the top dogs leading the pack in the AFC for a very long time. Likewise, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert seem destined for stardom after both quarterbacks had a thoroughly impressive season in 2021.
While trading for an experienced veteran is an option, it doesn’t seem like one that the Steelers are likely to explore, as Pittsburgh typically likes to rebuild through the NFL Draft. Because of this, many assume that Kevin Colbert is going to try to find Ben Roethlisberger’s successor in his final season as the team’s general manager.
Though this seems like the perfect way to close his legendary tenure with the team, that option might not exist in the 2022 NFL Draft. This isn’t considered a particularly strong quarterback class, and there aren’t any options that feel would be slam-dunk picks. For this reason, I really think the Steelers would be wise to hold out for Ohio State quarterback, C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Why Steelers should sell out for Stroud in 2023
Kenny Pickett had a terrific season for Pitt, but his breakout campaign didn’t come until year five, and his arm talent is quite pedestrian. Meanwhile, Sam Howell and Malik Willis both have some quality tools, but they seem very far away at this point and they each took a step back with unimpressive 2021 seasons. Matt Corral might have the best combination of everything you would like to see from this group, but he’s still far from a perfect prospect.
The last thing I want the Steelers to do is to hitch their horse to a wagon that can’t make it up the hill. While selecting a quarterback with the 20th overall pick this year could perhaps prove to give your team an upgrade over an aging Ben Roethlisberger in his final two seasons, it doesn’t mean that whoever they select is going to give their team the firepower they need to compete with the top dogs in the AFC.
This is why waiting one year and selling out for a player like C.J. Stroud seems to make the most sense. Unlike the quarterbacks in the 2022 class, Stroud is taller than most with elite arm talent and traits to work with — traits that could eventually help him become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
In his first season as a starter for the Buckeyes, Stroud managed 44 passing touchdowns and 6 interceptions with 4,435 receiving yards and a whopping 10.4 yards per attempt (11.4 adjusted), according to Sports Reference. While college production certainly isn’t everything, it’s easy to see how his spectacular traits will translate at the next level.
With a new generation of remarkable quarterbacks on the rise, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to know that they can’t settle for less when it comes to the quarterback position. Perhaps it would be best if the team sold out to go up and get C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft and use their draft capital this year to start rebuilding the offensive line.