The Steelers lost one of their best QBs of the last 30-years, and now it’s time to move on. Can they find the answer in this draft?
The Steelers are slowly losing ground in the AFC North. The Bengals took a giant tiger leap forward, the Browns got Watson at QB, and the Ravens continue to be good. This draft and what they do at quarterback could signal what the management is thinking.
If they believe they still have a chance to take this division, or if they will do a minor two to three-year rebuild and wait for the Browns and Ravens to fall apart. Let’s see what the Steelers did in my mock draft.
Steelers mock draft round 1: Desmond Ridder, QB Cincinnati
Combine results: 4.52 40-yard dash, 36in vertical, 6-foot-3, 207lbs, and just under 33in arms.
When you look at his combine, he profiles more as a corner than a quarterback when you want to build a corner. Desmond Ridder is the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, though I hate using that term. He is a driven winner and showed that while his accuracy can be a bit wild in college, he can make just about any throw you need.
With some solid athletic ability, he will need to get a bit bigger, though, if he wants to continue running like that at the next level. But, this offense, with the talent around him, will make him feel at home. Great running back, two good pass-catching wide receivers, and a solid tight end. It remains where he is as far as reading the field goes.
Steelers mock draft round 2: Tyler Smith, IOL Tulsa
Combine results: 5.02 40-yard dash, 27.5 vertical, 7.78 three-cone drill, 6-foot-6, 332lbs, and 34in arms.
The Steelers need some help on the interior side of the ball; this is a quick and large guard. Tyler Smith could play tackle at the next level with his size and length. I think the Steelers can put him at any tackle, guard, or center right now, and he can be successful. This matches well with drafting a quarterback in the first round and fills a need in general.
Steelers mock draft round 3: Marcus Jones, CB Houston
Combine results: 5-foot-8, 185lbs, and just under 29in arms.
Marcus Jones will fill an instant need at the corner position for this season, but I would look for him to move to slot or safety in 2023. He doesn’t profile well as an outside corner with his arms and height. So they will have to find a use for him, but he was very productive in college and can play both zone and man.
Due to the depth and talent at the position, he should find somewhere to play a constant role. Getting an every-down or almost every-down player with the 84th pick is a win no matter how you look at it.
Steelers mock draft round 4 (comp.): Verone McKinley III, S Oregon
Combine results: 35in vertical, 5-foot-11, 194lbs, and just under 31in arms.
I wish we could have seen him run at the combine and do some cone drills against the other defensive backs, but we will have to go off pro-days and tape. He is similar to the guy above him in this draft; he is a bit undersized all the way around for what the league currently wants at safety or corner.
But, both can be interchangeable. While he profiles as a better safety at the next level should Jones fail at the corner, we could see them switch spots, and McKinley sticks in the slot most of the time.
Steelers mock draft round 6 (via Chiefs): Christopher Hinton, IDL Michigan
Combine results: 5.28 40-yard dash, 31.5 vertical, 6-foot-4, 310lbs, and 32in arms.
This is a large man running that quick and jumping that high. He will fill in nicely on the interior of the defensive line; I wouldn’t expect to see him on the edges due to his length. But he could be a bowling ball in the middle of the line. More of a rotational player than an every-down player and could be a crucial part on punt and field goal situations.
Steelers mock draft round 7 (via Jets): Matt Hankins, CB Iowa
Combine results: None
While he was not at the combine, he is 6-foot-0 and 185lbs and was a crucial part of Iowa`s season last year. This class is just so deep at the corner he missed the cut. While he might not have the weight, he has the height and length we saw in college as he continued to pick balls off.
Hankins is still raw, but with the Steelers attacking the secondary with three picks, they continue to create depth and build young starters at positions were paying for them after their first contract is starting to break the bank. Expect him to fight for CB4 SS3 and time on special teams the day he shows up.
Steelers mock draft round 7: Michael Woods II, WR Oklahoma
Combine results: 4.55 40-yard dash, 34.5 vertical, 6-foot1, 198 lbs, and 33in arms.
His speed is not what you are looking for, for a guy his size. However, his verticle and arms make him an intriguing weapon. If the Steelers can get him closer to 205 and not lose any speed, this could be a project, at wide receiver who takes over an outside role or slot role in a few years. With the lack of complete overall depth, a dart throw here at a toolsy project is worth the shot.