Steelers trade inside the top-5 for a QB in latest NFL mock draft
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers have interest in drafting a quarterback early. Here’s why Pro Football Network has Pittsburgh trading into the top-five for a QB in their latest mock draft.
After an hour of extensive research on the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class, I have come to a conclusion: there isn’t a QB I would feel comfortable enough to trade up for this year.
Though there are five prospects who all check the box when it comes to athleticism — most of them with quality developmental traits — I don’t have a single QB with a first-round grade this season.
This is quite different from last year’s class. In 2021, I had first-round grades on four quarterbacks (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance). I also had a 1-2 grade on former Alabama QB Mac Jones. Sadly, I don’t believe there’s a quarterback this year worthy of being selected inside the top half of the first round.
However, this doesn’t mean that no QB will go this high. In fact, I would expect there to still be two quarterbacks taken in the top-10 picks. The Steelers could be one of several teams looking to move up.
In a recent mock draft by Pro Football Network, Oliver Hodgkinson has the Pittsburgh Steelers trading up to the fifth overall pick with the New York Giants in order to select Liberty QB, Malik Willis. Here’s what Hodgkinson had to say about this decision:
"Here. We. Go! As Malik Willis has risen throughout the pre-draft process, there has been one team that has been with him every step of the way. There have been multiple meetings between Willis and key components of the Steelers’ organization, including the infamous chicken wing dinner with Mike Tomlin that left the Liberty QB grinning from ear to ear.Having traded with the Giants, Pittsburgh pounces for their Ben Roethlisberger replacement. Willis gives the Steelers a big-armed quarterback with game-changing creativity on the ground. The recent signing of Mitchell Trubisky means Willis doesn’t need to start immediately, removing pressure and allowing him the time that he’ll need to develop."
There is a range of opinions about the top quarterbacks in this class, but most would probably agree that Malik Willis is the top option. In my assessment, Willis is the furthest away from seeing an NFL field, but the raw tools and upside are undeniable.
While it might be necessary for the Steelers to trade up this high in order to land Willis, it doesn’t mean that this is the right decision.
Steelers shouldn’t trade up for a QB
As I’m finalizing my 2022 NFL big board, I’ve determined that Malik Willis may not be my top quarterback this year. That title is looking like it will belong to Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. From the start, this QB class has been very hard to separate, and you are essentially picking the traits you like best when it comes to these guys.
In my opinion, Willis is worlds away as a passer right now, and though I admit that his upside is high, there is so much correcting that needs to happen with his game that I don’t know if he’s likely to ever hit his ceiling.
Meanwhile, some of the other quarterbacks this year (like Corral) have quality developmental traits but are miles ahead of Willis when it comes to things like accuracy, mechanics, and decision-making.
Even if you think that Willis is the best QB in this class (and I think he’s at least close), you have to consider the cost in a scenario like this. Trading into the top-5 from pick 20 could cost as much as two future first-round picks. In this particular mock, PFN has the Steelers giving up their first and second-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 in order to move up for Willis.
If the Steelers are to package a king’s ransom for a QB, they shouldn’t do it this year. I think it would be a much wiser decision to see how the chips fall in the first round or wait until the 2023 NFL Draft to continue their QB search.