Pittsburgh Steelers: Which Quarterback Do They Prefer, and Will They Trade Up to Get Him?
No quarterback in the 2022 draft class is considered a can't-miss prospect.
That leaves Pittsburgh with an intriguing decision as the only AFC North team without an established starting quarterback. Holding the 20th pick, will the Steelers wait and hope that Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh or Malik Willis of Liberty, or Matt Corral of Mississippi falls to them? Or do they like one of those quarterbacks enough to trade up?
An overwhelming majority of mock drafts have Pittsburgh taking a quarterback, but opinions vary on which one they will take.
In his mock draft released Monday, Peter King of NBC Sports has the Steelers staying at No. 20 and taking Pickett. He also predicts Pickett will be the only quarterback taken in the first round.
On why the Steelers may choose Pickett over Willis, King wrote, "it's a gut feeling more than anything else … but I've heard the Steelers think Pickett's more likely to succeed as a pro."
ESPN's Todd McShay is also hearing that no quarterback will be taken before the Steelers draft at No. 20. However, McShay believes Pittsburgh likes Willis.
Chad Reuter of NFL.com adds more intrigue to the Steelers' decision in his latest mock draft, writing that Pittsburgh will trade up to No. 12 to draft Corral after the Falcons take Willis at No. 8.
"Most evaluate Corral based on the offense he ran at Ole Miss, but he's not limited to the types of throws he was asked to make in that system," Reuter wrote. "His quick release, mobility and toughness give him a chance to excel in a revamped offense brought to bear by Steelers coordinator Matt Canada in 2022."
At some point in the draft, the Steelers are expected to take a wide receiver after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster to Kansas City in free agency. However, approaching their first season following Ben Roethlisberger's retirement, the Steelers are looking for the next potential franchise quarterback who would join Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph to compete for the starting job next season.
Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive Backs Will Be on Their Radar
The Bengals placed the franchise tag on one starting safety, Jesse Bates, while starting safety Vonn Bell is in the final year of his contract. Cornerbacks Eli Apple, Mike Hilton and Tre Flowers are all returning, but the Bengals could use more depth at that position.
Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer believes improving the secondary is the Bengals' top draft priority with the 31st pick.
ESPN.com’s Football Outsiders named three defensive backs the Bengals could target – cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Andrew Booth Jr. and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker.
Cincinnati attacked its offensive line during free agency by signing center Ted Karras, guard Alex Cappa and tackle La'el Collins. However, the Bengals could use more defensive line depth and may also be in the market for an edge rusher.
The Bengals could also look for a tight end after losing C.J. Uzomah to the Jets in free agency. While they signed former Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst, King's mock draft has the Bengals taking Colorado State's Trey McBride as the first tight end off the board.
Cleveland Browns: Defensive Line and Wide Receiver Could Be Priorities
The Browns traded their first-round pick (13th overall) as part of the blockbuster deal that brought quarterback Deshaun Watson to Cleveland. However, the Browns have a second-round pick (44th overall) and two third-rounders (No. 78, 99) among their seven overall picks.
Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who had nine sacks for the Browns last season, remains a free agent and there is no guarantee he will re-sign with Cleveland. Regardless of what happens with Clowney, the Browns want to improve their defensive line. Both starting tackles from last season remain free agents – Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell.
Defensive linemen who could fall to the Browns in Round 2 include DeMarvin Leal of Texas A&M, Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma and Cameron Thomas of San Diego State.
In their three-round mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and McShay have the Browns taking Connecticut defensive tackle Travis Jones in Round 2.
The Browns may also look to add a wide receiver to pair with Amari Cooper, who they acquired in a trade with the Cowboys. This is another draft class deep at wide receiver, and Kiper has the Browns targeting Boise State wideout Khalil Shakir in the second round.