Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 7.0! If you haven’t been following along, we are tracking the moves of the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason to try and determine who they will select in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. My goal is to have all seven Steelers selections included among all of my mocks before the draft. To see my previous versions of the Steelers Mock Draft go here.
We are now less than one month away and the Steelers have been very busy attending College Pro Days looking for their next crop of talent.
As always we will begin with our “assumptions”. These are the notes I give you about potential upcoming roster moves between now and draft day, or potential thought processes the Steelers are operating under/could be operating under. These assumptions help form my selections, and typically change from one mock to another so that way I can mix up my thinking.
ASSUMPTIONS FOR STEELERS MOCK DRAFT 7.0
- Pittsburgh will sign a strong safety who will be the starter for the upcoming season
- Defensive End Stephon Tuitt will return for the 2021-22 season.
- This is most important assumption of this mock, and perhaps all mocks I’ve done so far. We know the Steelers love Malik Willis. For this, I am going to assume the Steelers will do whatever it takes to move up to get him.
With all of that in mind, let’s get to the Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft 7.0!
Round 1 – Malik Willis QB, Liberty
Ok. It’s happening. I know many of you will come at my neck for this but listen – trading up for a QB is not what I would do, nor what I think is most likely to happen. However, I do believe it’s important to go through the exercise. And that is what we’re doing here.
So what would it take? I truly believe Malik Willis will be a top 10 pick. Almost every year NFL teams convince themselves one or two QBs are worth that high of a selection. Willis is arguably the best one to do that for because he does have the highest upside considering his traits. No one has the combination of arm strength, pure speed, and playmaking ability like Willis. That is why he will go early, and that is why Pittsburgh would have to make a major move up to get him.
I did the research a while back for what it would take to trade into the top 10. You can find that article here. In this simulation I traded up to pick eight with the Atlanta Falcons. That gets Pittsburgh ahead of the Seattle Seahawks at nine, and removes the Falcons from contention. However it is feasible that they could need to get ahead of the Carolina Panthers who are at six, but I believe their sights are set on Kenny Pickett. To make the trade, I figure Pittsburgh will have to give up at least their third round pick this year, and first round pick next year.
Back to Willis. He certainly has all of the tools. And we know the Steelers love him. The Steelers had multiple interactions with him (and his family) at both the Senior Bowl and the Liberty Pro Day. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been talking about quarterback mobility since mid season this past year, and Willis is the most mobile in this class.
For all of the personal and physical traits unfortunately his tape is where Willis loses me. In just two years of starting at a mid-major there was a mixed bag of results. With his physical traits alone you would want him to be able to dominate the competition at his collegiate level. But too many sacks, interceptions and bad reads litter his game.
For what it’s worth, his interception numbers are interesting. Instead of every game having one or two picks thrown, his turnovers usually come in bunches. This year for example his didn’t throw any interceptions in his first five games. But in games six through 13 he threw 3, 3, 0, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0. To me this seems more like he’s having trouble reading particular defensive coverages, and perhaps that’s something that can be coached out.
Look, if Willis is there at 20, I’m OK with that. And if Pittsburgh decides to trade up for him, I’ll believe in him and root for him. We know they love him, and we know they are doing their homework. But I highly doubt he’ll be there at 20, and even though I wouldn’t make the trade to get him, I believe they’ll try something. But now let’s look into what else might happen as a result of this big Day One move.
Round 2 – John Metchie III WR, Alabama
In the Malik Willis trade we traded one of Pittsburgh’s two Day Two picks. These are very valuable picks because they can still produce quality starters. So what position gets pushed out of contention?
Considering the moves Pittsburgh has made to sign linebackers and defensive backs, but have not added any quality receivers, wide out needs to be a Day Two selection in this Steelers mock draft.
Enter John Metchie III from Alabama. A productive slot receiver, he can take the place of JuJu Smith-Schuster right away. Metchie III was a two year starter at Alabama where he went for 151-2058-14 in that time. He operates out of the slot but doesn’t possess elite size or speed. But paired with his toughness and route running ability, his size and speed are sufficient to play anywhere on the field. Because of the talented wide receivers he’s played with at Alabama, Metchie III has experience in multiple parts of the field and running different routes.
With Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool still on the roster on their rookie deals, Metchie III can play along with them as the slot receiver. He also suffered a torn ACL in December of 2021, so if he has to start a little slow he can fit in nicely with those guys. He also has the potential and experience to eventually take an outside receiver role if Johnson or Claypool aren’t signed to second contracts.
Round 4 – Tariq Castro-Fields CB, Penn State
Tariq Castro-Fields is a Day 3 defensive back option out of Penn State. What I like best about Castro-Fields is his size and physicality. TCF came in at nearly 6’1 and 195 pounds at his Pro Day, which was attended by a number of Steelers’ defensive representatives including Defensive Assistant/LBs Coach Brian Flores, and DBs Coach Grady Brown.
The fifth year senior had an extremely productive Junior year in his first year as a full time starter. In 12 games he had 52 total tackles, three tackles for loss, eight passes defended and two interceptions. Then in 2020 he had multiple injuries and only played in three games. Although the injuries were never officially disclosed, it appears to have been issues with his shoulder(s).
This could have led to his dip in production during his fifth season this past year. His tackle numbers dropped and he was less effective defending the run. Hopefully the recovery from the injury will bring back his aggressiveness. Even as an outside corner his first three seasons at PSU resulted in 10 TFLs and one sack.
Castro-Fields has the size and athleticism to make it as an NFL corner. The tackling and aggressiveness he showed early in his college career would also make him a good fit with the Steelers. Whether it’s as a special teamer, run defending outside corner, or blitzing defensive back, TCF could compete for multiple roles on this team.
Round 6 – Dontario Drummond WR, Ole Miss
I want to credit Dave Bryan of Steelers Depot here. Before free agency he posed the idea of Pittsburgh drafting multiple receivers. I thought this was crazy. They would surely retain JuJu and/or Ray-Ray McCloud, and add another piece in free agency. Drafting one would be plenty. But as the weeks of free agency go and the Steelers do little to nothing with the position, I’m all aboard drafting multiple receivers.
Dontario Drummond is a more one to one comparison to JuJu in the slot. Drummond has similar size (6’1 215 pounds) and is good after the catch. He isn’t a super refined route runner, but he understands zone defenses and is good at finding open spaces to work in. He does have the speed to work downfield as well, should Pittsburgh ever look to utilize their slot receiver deep. Drummond would be a nice slot option to pair with Metchie III as the latter works back from the torn ACL. And since Metchie III could move around the field, Drummond can be your mainstay inside. Both players are also strong blockers.
Round 7 – Dare Rosenthal OT, Kentucky
And so continues my trend of Day 3 project offensive tackles. As Pro Days continue, the offensive line position looks less and less like a priority in the draft for Pittsburgh. But it’s still important to bring a young player in and try to develop him, and Dare Rosenthal of Kentucky is definitely an option.
Rosenthal ran the fastest 40 at the combine this year at 4.88. It does seem like he dropped weight in order to do it however as he was 290lbs in Indianapolis, but the Kentucky team sight listed him at a 327 playing weight. Either way it’s an impressive blend of size and speed. Rosenthal is also long at 6’7 with 33 and 1/2 inch arms. Offensive Line Coach Pat Meyer likes long offensive lineman to work with and was at Rosenthal’s Pro Day.
Rosenthal is still raw as an offensive lineman. He came out of high school predominately on the defensive side, but redshirted at LSU to fully transition to offense. In two years of LSU he had spot starts before transferring to Kentucky in 2021. He started 12 games at left tackle this year.
Round 7- Myron Tagovaillloa-Amosa EDGE, Notre Dame
Rounding out this Steelers mock draft is Myron Tagovailloa-Amosa a defensive lineman from Notre Dame. I struggled to find a new name this late in the draft, but the Tagovailloa-Amosa has been on my radar. At 6’2, 270 pounds he’s moved from the interior of the defensive line closer and closer to the edge. While a full conversion to a standup OLB would be brand new, it’s certainly a possibility.
MTA had an impressive pro day showcasing his athletic traits. His 7.29 3-cone showed off his agility and speed. His tape shows great strength in the run game thanks to his experience as a defensive tackle. He also has great hand usage which helps with his initial punch. In his one year as a defensive end he showed good pass rush ability and had 2.5 sacks.
Tagovailloa-Amosa’s ability to convert to a full time EDGE defender and play special teams will determine his fit in Pittsburgh. But his play and personal traits (hard worker, captain, strong motor) make him a great fit on paper. GM Kevin Colbert was also at his Pro Day, and I’m sure he was impressed enough to consider this pick.
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