Steelers' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets to Benefit Starting QB

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 6, 2022

Steelers' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets to Benefit Starting QB

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers can approach the first round of the 2022 NFL draft in a few ways.

    Mike Tomlin and his staff could go after a new franchise quarterback to replace Ben Roethlisberger with the No. 20 overall pick. Pittsburgh may also load up on offensive weapons to help Mitchell Trubisky or Mason Rudolph adjust to the starting role.

    The AFC North franchise has a nice young crop of offensive skill position talent led by Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson. The Steelers chose Harris, Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth in the first three rounds of the past three drafts.

    Instead of landing a new quarterback, Pittsburgh's eye for talent at the offensive skill positions may lead to another selection of that type to help either Trubisky or Rudolph grow into the offense.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh should be able to choose from a handful of top-tier wide receivers at No. 20. Arkansas' Treylon Burks is one of the wideouts expected to still be around at that juncture of the first round.

    Bleacher Report's NFL scouting staff mocked Burks to go at No. 21, while ESPN's Todd McShay had the Arkansas product landing at No. 23.

    Wide receiver may not seem like an immediate need for a team with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on its roster, but Pittsburgh needs an abundance of talent in order to contend in the AFC North.

    The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals all possess deep wide receiver units, and having two star wideouts and a strong tight end in Pat Freiermuth will not be good enough to win every divisional game.

    Burks is coming off a 1,100-yard season inside the Arkansas offense. He caught 18 touchdown passes in his last two seasons in the SEC.

    The high touchdown rate should intrigue the Steelers because they could use an extra red-zone target to aid Mitchell Trubisky or Mason Rudolph.

    Burks is 6'2" and 225 pounds. He could be the perfect physical target to complement Johnson, Claypool and Freiermuth in red-zone situations.

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    Penn State's Jahan Dotson is an ideal deep target for any franchise to add at the back end of the first round.

    Dotson was Penn State's top deep threat last season and finished with 1,182 yards on 91 receptions.

    The Steelers coaching staff should be well aware of Dotson's talents since he played only a few hours away from Pittsburgh.

    Dotson is projected to be a lower-third first-round selection. NFL.com's Charles Davis has him landing at No. 22, and B/R's scouting staff mocked him to Buffalo at No. 25. Dotson would give the Steelers a true downfield threat. They could use Johnson and Claypool for more possession-based receptions closer to the line of scrimmage if that is to be their wide receiver grouping.

    If wide receiver is the first-round target, Pittsburgh would be wise to swoop up Burks, Dotson or another player before a run at the position happens, with the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo all potentially looking for upgrades beneath it in the first-round order.

Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The alternative to picking a wide receiver in the non-quarterback first-round route is to add protection for the new starting quarterback.

    B/R's scouting staff projected that Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning would land with the Steelers in its latest mock draft.

    Penning is one of the more physically imposing offensive linemen in the draft class, measuring in at 6'7" and 326 pounds. Pittsburgh could use a large unit on one side of the offensive line to provide the best possible protection for its starting quarterback.

    The Steelers added Mason Cole and James Daniels to the interior part of the offensive line in free agency, and they have Chukwuma Okorafor installed at right tackle. Mike Tomlin and his staff could use another pillar at offensive tackle to keep the new quarterback upright.

    If the Steelers believe Penning or another player can fill that position, they should pass on a wide receiver in the first round and instead add more protection.

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