Which QB checks the most boxes for Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have traits they look for at the quarterback position. Here’s the NFL Draft prospect who checks the most boxes in 2022. 

Early in the NFL Draft process, there are many Steelers fans who think they’ve got it figured out. If you have been following along closely, there’s clearly one player who has had the most connections to Pittsburgh in the first round this year, and that’s Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have now met with Willis at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and the team is rumored to have a ton of interest in drafting him. In fact, Pro Football Network NFL Insider, Tony Pauline, recently said that he believes Willis is the plan for the Steelers this year.

But does he check the most boxes? While this isn’t necessarily a requirement to be Pittsburgh’s top draft choice, it’s something that should be considered. While Willis does meet and exceed Pittsburgh’s athletic threshold at the quarterback position, he falls short in several other areas.

Here’s a look at the 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks who check the most boxes for the Pittsburgh Steelers, based on my evaluation:

You may be surprised to see that no QB checks more boxes than Sam Howell. At just over 6-feet tall, Howell doesn’t meet the typical 6’3” benchmark the Steelers look for at the quarterback position, but he checks every other box on this chart.

Howell was a high recruit, is an underclassman, is the youngest of the group, played in a Power Five conference, and has great arm strength and good athletic traits. Kenny Pickett checks the second-most amount of boxes when it comes to traits, however, these categories are not weighted based on importance.

Surprisingly, Ole Miss QB, Matt Corral, checks the fewest amount of boxes the Steelers typically look for. While he played at a great level of competition, put up good numbers, and is a good athlete, he doesn’t hit their typical size requirements, he’s 23 years old, and doesn’t have an elite arm.

How important is checking boxes to Steelers

This chart shouldn’t be something to simply scoff at. The Steelers absolutely have thresholds they look for and boxes they like to check. It was for this reason that Terrell Edmunds was their first-round selection in 2018. Edmunds wasn’t really on the radar for most, but when you look into it, he was a young, underclassman with great athletic traits and good production. He also played for a Power Five football program at Virginia Tech and had strong family bloodlines.

Simply put, these things matter to the Steelers. But how much?

I certainly don’t believe that there are two quarterbacks Pittsburgh likes better than Malik Willis this year just because they check more boxes. I think Willis is still the QB1 for Pittsburgh in the 2022 NFL Draft, and I think they could try to aggressively pursue him this April.

However, this could change the order after him. I’ve said for a while now that I think Sam Howell could be the QB2 on Pittsburgh’s draft board because he does check so many boxes. Like Edmunds and some of the other first-round picks drafted by the Steelers in recent years, he’s not a finished product, but he’s young with plenty of tools to work with.

If Willis is long gone before the 20th overall pick or if the Steelers aren’t able to trade up for him, perhaps Howell is the player they will consider with their top draft choice this year.

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We never know exactly how the Steelers will have their draft board set up, but they do have certain boxes they like to check at each position. This puts Sam Howell on the map as a possible selection in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.