Steelers mock draft: New weapons and completing the defense
By Shayne Kubas
The Steelers have the chance to solidify an already talented roster with their draft this year, and it starts by avoiding an early QB pick. Here is my realistic Steelers mock draft.
The 2022 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching, and the Steelers are in a good position to upgrade key weaknesses across their roster. The draft conversation surrounding Pittsburgh has been dominated by the QB position and for good reason.
The Steelers top brass including Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have been to the pro days of, had dinner with and scheduled visits with basically every top signal-caller in the class. Even with the addition of Mitch Trubisky this offseason, the team clearly has its eye on finding a young player to add to the QB room.
While that makes plenty of sense given Trubisky’s up and down career so far, this crop of passers isn’t one I would be gambling on. They all have major question marks about their game as they prepare to make the leap to the NFL. No prospect is perfect, but this class especially seems to lack players who are easy projections to the next level.
That being the case, the Steelers should focus on strengthening the offense for Trubisky and adding young talent to an already impressive defense. They do just that in this mock, starting with a plug-and-play receiver to replace Juju Smith-Schuster.
Round 1, pick 20: Steelers select Chris Olave
Chris Olave could have left Ohio State as a junior last season and likely been a high draft pick, but coming back for his senior campaign has solidified him as a 1st rounder. The easiest way to describe him is just one word: smooth. Everything he does on the field just looks easy, especially his route running.
The Steelers already have an elite separator in Diontae Johnson, but Olave has more ability as a vertical threat with sub 4.4 speed. He isn’t going to be a huge threat after the catch due to strength concerns, but the Steelers already have players like Pat Freiermuth and Chase Claypool for that.
This pick would hopefully mean more slot snaps for Claypool as well, which is where I think he has the best chance to be productive for now. Olave can be the #2 outside receiver that Claypool hasn’t been able to excel as. He would also help take some of the stress off of Diontae Johnson, leading to less but more efficient targets.
If the Steelers were to take a higher upside receiver like Arkansas’s Treylon Burks or Georgia’s George Pickens instead I would understand, but Olave is the safer pick and still a great player. Regardless, finding a suitable third receiver after losing several players to free agency should be a point of emphasis. If the Steelers decide the time to do it is with their first pick, Olave should be the guy.