Steelers' Team Needs to Fill in 2022 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMarch 28, 2022

Steelers' Team Needs to Fill in 2022 NFL Draft

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a late push to get into the playoffs as the third AFC wild-card team. It marked their 10th postseason appearance under head coach Mike Tomlin, who has still never had a losing season during his 15 years at the helm.

    But now, the Steelers are entering a new era, one without longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And there will be plenty of new faces on the field in Pittsburgh, such as linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Levi Wallace, a pair of notable free-agent signings.

    Although the Steelers have been fairly active this offseason, they still have holes to fill before the 2022 season arrives. They may opt to address several of those needs during the NFL draft, which will take place from April 28-30.

    Here's a closer look at Pittsburgh's top needs it may look to address during the draft.

Quarterback

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    Kendall Warner/Associated Press

    There's a good chance that Roethlisberger's immediate successor at quarterback will be Mitchell Trubisky, who signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Steelers earlier this offseason. But is the 27-year-old QB the franchise's long-term answer at the position? That may not be the case.

    The signing of Trubisky may not prevent the Steelers from using their first-round draft pick (the No. 20 overall selection) on a quarterback who they can develop and not have to rush into a starting role. Many mocks have Pittsburgh using the pick on a QB. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Steelers drafting Liberty's Malik Willis, who could be a great fit for the situation.

    "Trubisky could be a bridge to Willis, who is raw but supremely talented," Kiper wrote. "... Willis could compete with Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins in training camp, but he wouldn't be under immediate pressure to start in Week 1. That would be crucial for him."

    Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss' Matt Corral, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and North Carolina's Sam Howell are among the other top QBs in this year's draft class. If Pittsburgh doesn't land Willis, it could also take one of these quarterbacks, or somebody else who may not get taken until the middle rounds.

    Regardless, the Steelers should draft a potential franchise quarterback who could be accelerated into the role should the Trubisky signing not work out.

Wide Receiver

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The Steelers have a solid pair of wide receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. However, they're the only two on the roster who had more than six catches for the team last year, now that JuJu Smith-Schuster left via free agency and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    If Trubisky or any other quarterback is going to have success in Pittsburgh's offense, another solid wide receiver likely needs to be added to the roster. And there are some talented playmakers in this year's draft class, meaning the Steelers could address that need after the first round.

    One potential fit could be Western Michigan's Skyy Moore, who may be available for Pittsburgh to draft at No. 52. Moore is from the Pittsburgh area, as he previously attended Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, where he played high school football with Tomlin's son, Dino.

    "It's a storybook ending if I landed with the Steelers," Moore said earlier this month, per Aaron McMann of MLive.com.

    Whether it's Moore or another wide receiver, Pittsburgh should add one more legitimate pass-catching weapon to its offense. That will help it make up for the loss of Smith-Schuster and potentially take the unit to another level.

Safety

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Minkah Fitzpatrick will again be the Steelers' starting free safety in 2022. As for who will be starting alongside him at strong safety? That's a question that Pittsburgh doesn't yet have an answer to.

    Terrell Edmunds started all 17 games for the Steelers last season, and he started 60 games for them from 2018-21. However, the 25-year-old safety is now a free agent, and it's possible he won't be coming back to Pittsburgh for 2022. Although ESPN's Jeremy Fowler recently reported that the Steelers re-signing Edmunds is "not off the table."

    If Pittsburgh doesn't bring back Edmunds or sign somebody else to be its starting strong safety, perhaps it addresses the position early in the draft. It could find a new starter within the first few rounds.

    Even if the Steelers sign or trade for a new strong safety, though, they may still want to take one during the draft, especially if their other acquisition is only a short-term fix for the spot. Auburn's Smoke Monday could be an intriguing target for Pittsburgh on the third day of the draft, as he's a high-potential player who may outperform where he gets selected.

    There will be other possible safety targets for the Steelers throughout the draft, so they'll likely have options to address what could still be their biggest defensive need at that point. 

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