Steelers should consider talented offensive tackle if Mike Munchak returns

Head coach Mark Farley of the Northern Iowa Panthers co0aches offensive lineman Trevor Penning #70 of the Northern Iowa Panthers. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Head coach Mark Farley of the Northern Iowa Panthers co0aches offensive lineman Trevor Penning #70 of the Northern Iowa Panthers. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) /

The pre-draft process kicked off with Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama. Here is one talented offensive tackle the Steelers should consider if Mike Munchak returns.

The 2022 NFL Draft is going to have an excellent group of offensive linemen at the top of the class. Fortunately, this lines up with some of the Pittsburgh Steelers biggest needs.

With really only two players they should feel somewhat comfortable with (Dan Moore Jr. and Kevin Dotson), the Steelers could use help at offensive tackle, guard, or center. With the 20th overall selection in this April’s draft, there should be some very good offensive line talent on the board.

You can gain a lot from watching the OL vs DL drills at Senior Bowl week, as this is always a pretty good indicator of success at the next level. While most of the top offensive linemen in this class are underclassmen and weren’t at the Senior Bowl, we did get to scope out the best of the rest.

Boston College offensive guard Zion Johnson was clearly the best offensive lineman for either team during Senior Bowl week, in my opinion, but one guy who really caught my attention was Northern Iowa offensive tackle, Trevor Penning.

Penning was a player who received a lot of buzz prior to making the trip to Mobile, and it’s not hard to see why. With remarkable size and traits, Penning had first-round upside at one of the most important positions in football.

During practices, Penning was far from perfect. In one-on-ones, he overset too often and failed to recover quick enough against the bull rush at times. However, you could clearly see the traits that could make him a very good starting offensive tackle at the next level.

Penning officially measured in at 6’6 3/4” and 330 pounds with 34 3/4” arms, 10 1/4” hands, and an impressive 83 5/8” wingspan. But it’s not just the prototype OT size that has me intrigued. On most plays, Penning displayed excellent foot quickness and movement skills to mirror edge defenders. He also plays with a violent, nasty demeanor as he could be seen finishing the play by throwing defenders to the ground — something we saw often during his 2021 film as well.

Still, Penning is a bit of a risk in the first round of the NFL Draft without the proper coaching.

Steelers need Mike Munchak back to draft a player like Penning

The way it stands, I’m not so sure I would consider Trevor Penning with the 20th pick in the draft (assuming he makes it that far). While I love the traits, physicality, and upside, I don’t trust Pittsburgh’s current coaching staff to develop him into a premier offensive tackle in the NFL. However, that could all change if Mike Munchak decides to return to the Steelers.

Munchak is no longer under contract in Denver and reports are that Broncos are looking to head in another direction. Munchak had great success coaching some very raw players on the Steelers offensive line, and he even helped a former college wide receiver in Alejandro Villanueva become a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle.

Obviously, the choice is going to be up to Munchak, but I can’t see any reason why the Steelers wouldn’t welcome him back with open arms — especially after interim OL coach, Chris Morgan, was recently poached by the Chicago Bears.

With Munchak back in Pittsburgh, the Steelers could really get creative with their draft strategy. Though it seems like quarterback could be the most likely pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, offensive line has to rank high on their list of needs.

I have loads of confidence that Munchak would be able to take a moldable ball of clay-like Trevor Penning and turn him into a masterpiece. Next to quarterback, many in the business consider offensive tackle to be the second-most important position in football.

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Penning would still be an outlier for the Steelers, as they simply don’t draft non-Power Five players in the first round. However, they may want to consider making an exception for Penning if Munchak returned. Guys like Trevor Penning just don’t grow on trees.