Pittsburgh gets their franchise quarterback
There has been no team connected to drafting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft in the past calendar year than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger played as well as many thought he would in his 18th season in the league. Despite their lackluster quarterback play, the Steelers were able to sneak into the playoffs this past year.
This offseason Roethlisberger decided to retire leaving a void at Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback position. The team decided to fill that void with former Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Mitch Trubsisky, whom they signed to a two-year, $14 million deal. Trubisky is solid enough to be trusted to start for the Steelers next season. However, the amount he will be making per year tells the whole story that they don’t believe in him long-term.
It has been no secret that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has a soft spot for Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. Pittsburgh may have to trade up to select Willis who is seen by many to be the quarterback in this class with the most upside. He is a dynamic athlete that needs to develop and get comfortable playing against NFL-caliber talent. Willis’ athleticism is a bump under Lamar Jackson. But he will rank among the most mobile quarterbacks in the league very early in his career. Willis’ rookie year should resemble how the San Francisco 49ers treated Trey Lance this past season.
To ensure they land the quarterback they want they must move ahead of the Carolina Panthers who can take a quarterback with their first selection. This would mean that the Steelers would likely have to convince the New York Giants to trade out of their first selection of two top-10 picks. It would likely cost the Steelers their first and second-round picks this year along with a day two selection next year in order to convince the Giants to trade down that far.
If Pittsburgh is able to draft Malik Willis they will be getting an explosive playmaker at the quarterback position who can compete with the likes of Pro Bowl quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Joe Burrow. This Steelers team was able to make the playoffs last season with one of the worst passing offenses in the league. Pittsburgh may feel they are a dynamic quarterback away from being a legitimate contender in the AFC.
The New York Giants’ new regime may want to use both of their top-10 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft to add two blue-chip players to this franchise. However, it may be more beneficial long-term to trade out of one of those selections in order to acquire future draft capital. It seems extremely unlikely that the Giants will be contending next season no matter what they do in the draft. So it may be wiser long-term to embrace their long-term rebuild and accumulate assets in the 2023 draft where they could possibly select a quarterback. It is fair to say the Giants benefited from trading out of their first-round pick last season and landing Chicago’s first-round pick in 2022. So what is stopping the Giants from doing something similar this year?
It is difficult to project what the New York Giants would do if they were selecting with Pittburgh’s 20th overall pick because up to this point they have been discussed selecting two top-10 players. New general manager Joe Schoen would likely go with a safe pick at this spot considering it is one of his first selections with the team and also because of the recent drama surrounding 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney. New York could target Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd who many expect to be the first linebacker drafted on Thursday.
During Schoen’s time in Buffalo, he drafted Trumaine Edmonds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to be a foundational piece of the Bills’ defense. He may view Lloyd as the type of player who can bring a similar impact to a Giants defense with some foundational pieces already in place. Lloyd is an aggressive linebacker who is a great tackler and is always a threat to blitz the quarterback. After showing his leadership skills at Utah last season, he could be the captain this defense has needed for a long time.
One player that New York could target with the Steelers’ second-round pick is Colorado State tight end Trey McBride. He is seen as the consensus best tight end in this year’s class. After cutting Kyle Rudolph and losing Evan Engram in free agency no team has a bigger need at tight end than the Giants. Their current projected starter at tight end is Ricky Seals-Jones. McBride could be an impact starter early in his career in New York despite being a late second-round pick. He would be the traditional tight end Daniel Jones has lacked up to this point of his career. McBride would be a security blanket on third down who has the potential to be one of the best receiving options on this team.