May 24, 2022

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Steelers won’t draft Malik Willis, and the reason…

3 min read
Steelers won't draft Malik Willis, and the reason...

Here is why the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be drafting Malik Willis out of Liberty this spring.

For as badly as the Pittsburgh Steelers may want to draft Malik Willis out of Liberty in the 2022 NFL Draft, it is going to be next to impossible for that to even happen.

Even though Pittsburgh is in dire need of a franchise quarterback, the Steelers only have the No. 20 overall pick in this spring’s draft. While they could conceivably trade up to select a signal-caller of their choosing, Willis’ draft market is exploding. He could go as high as No. 2 overall to the Detroit Lions. It would be unbelievable if he slipped past his hometown Atlanta Falcons at No. 8.

Outside of Atlanta, and to some degree Detroit, there are a few other quarterback-desperate teams picking ahead of the Steelers at No. 20: The Carolina Panthers at No. 6, the Seattle Seahawks at No. 9, the Washington Commanders at No. 11 and the New Orleans Saints at No. 18. Pittsburgh would have to trade up into the top-five just to even have a chance at landing Willis.

The other important factor here is the 2023 quarterback draft class will be better than this year’s. Plus, Pittsburgh will probably win too many games with Mitch Trubisky under center to be in a great spot to draft a high-quality signal-caller in 2023. Simply put, they are somewhat trapped in quarterbacking purgatory. It might take a minute to find the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.

What is Pittsburgh to do now that it is not in a position to draft the best quarterback prospect?

Pittsburgh Steelers will not move up 15 picks to draft Malik Willis out of Liberty

Even if this is a weak quarterback draft class, the market suggests at least four, and potentially five, will be coming off the board in the first round. Willis and local product Kenny Pickett out of Pitt should be locks to go in the top-10. Matt Corral out of Ole Miss should go top-half, probably top-12. UNC’s Sam Howell and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder will be available in the 20s as well.

If Pittsburgh wants to trade up, the Steelers are not going to have to travel as far to get Pickett as they would Willis. They would have to trade up into the top-seven to leapfrog Atlanta at No. 8 to be in an ideal spot to land the ACC Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist. He may have tiny hands, but he is the most pro-ready of any quarterback in this draft. Plus, he played at Pitt.

Another option is to hope Corral falls to them or trade up ever so slightly to get him. Howell should be on the board at No. 20, and Ridder will definitely be there. It might even serve the Steelers to trade back and take either guy a few picks later. Of course, Pittsburgh may focus its attention on the next wave of quarterbacks coming down the pipeline. 2023 has the feel of the 2004 class.

Whether it is Bryce Young of Alabama, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, Spencer Rattler of South Carolina, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest or D.J. Uiagalelei of Clemson, there are plenty of high-quality quarterbacks to be had in a year’s time. Even if Trubisky plays well during his run as the Steelers’ stop-gap starter, they would have more bites at better quality apples in next year’s NFL Draft.

Willis may be the apple of everyone’s eye, but the Steelers are in no position to trade up for him.

Steelers won’t draft Malik Willis, and the reason is obvious