Steelers' Worst-Case 2022 NFL Draft Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 20, 2022

Steelers' Worst-Case 2022 NFL Draft Scenarios

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers sit in a precarious spot in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.

    The AFC North squad is slated to pick 20th, and that pick could come with bad news if the first 19 picks do not go its way.

    Pittsburgh needs to hope for one of the top quarterbacks or wide receivers to fall to it in the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario may be more realistic than the Steelers hope it is. The NFL is a quarterback-hungry league, and a handful of teams could sweep up the top prospects at the position.

    A similar fate could await the Steelers at wide receiver since a few teams ahead of them have needs at the position as well.

    Mike Tomlin and his staff may not be entirely disappointed if they strike out on those positions as long as it finds a quality player at No. 20.

    Still, some fans could view the Steelers' first round as a failure if they leave Day 1 with Mitchell Trubisky as their top quarterback and have the same set of wide receivers.

All Top Quarterbacks Are Gone by 20th Pick

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    There is a scenario that could play out on draft night in which the top quarterbacks are all gone before the 20th pick.

    The Carolina Panthers appear to be the first destination for a signal-caller at No. 6. The Atlanta Falcons could follow in its footsteps at No. 8. While the Seattle Seahawks could complete the early run on quarterbacks at No. 9.

    Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett would likely be off the board in that situation.

    The New Orleans Saints could be a road block for Pittsburgh's quarterback search. The Saints have the 16th and 19th picks and might take a risk on a quarterback to compete with Jameis Winston.

    The worst-case scenario for Pittsburgh would be for Carolina, Atlanta, Seattle and New Orleans to pick quarterbacks before it goes on the clock at No. 20.

    The Steelers may be willing to explore a trade up from their current position, but that may put some draft capital at risk.

    Pittsburgh might be more desperate to move up in the first round if multiple quarterbacks are on the board. That could lead to teams charging more in a trade because they know of Pittsburgh's plight.

    The AFC North side should still look at quarterbacks if it can't get one in the first round, but the drop-off in quality from Willis and Pickett may be steep.

Wide Receiver Run Happens Earlier Than Expected

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The run on wide receivers should happen at some point in the teens.

    A year ago, three wideouts were chosen in the first 10 picks, and the fourth one went off the board at No. 20.

    Some of the same teams Pittsburgh should be concerned about when it comes to quarterbacks could be in the mix for wide receivers.

    Atlanta might go after a top-tier wideout to replace for Calvin Ridley while he is suspended. New Orleans could opt to take a wide receiver with one of its two first-rounders.

    The Philadelphia Eagles sit in prime position at Nos. 15 and 18 to take at least one top offensive talent in the opening round.

    That could mean the Ohio State pair of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, USC's Drake London and Alabama's Jameson Williams are all gone by the 20th pick.

    Pittsburgh is not in dire need of a wide receiver, but it could use some help alongside Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

    If all the elite quarterbacks are gone, the Steelers could pivot to wide receiver to surround Trubisky with the best possible supporting cast.

    Pittsburgh may be forced to attack another position of need in the first round and then add offensive depth in the later rounds.

    The only way the Steelers could ensure they land a top quarterback or wide receiver is to move up from No. 20.

No Trade Partners Emerge on Draft Night

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Eight of the 19 picks in front of the Steelers have already traded hands.

    More deals could happen in the days leading up the draft and during April 28's first round.

    Pittsburgh would be wise to explore all trade options in its attempt to bring in a quarterback or wide receiver in the first round.

    The problem that lies in front of Pittsburgh is the motivations of the franchises in the six spots ahead of it, starting with the Baltimore Ravens at No. 14. Baltimore has zero motivation to trade down with Pittsburgh to allow its divisional rival to improve its roster especially if that leads to a new starting quarterback.

    Philadelphia and New Orleans already made a trade to lock in two first-round selections for both franchises. The Eagles and Saints have incomplete rosters and could benefit from using two first-round picks to bolster their quality.

    The Los Angeles Chargers may not be willing to swap three spots because they need extra protection for quarterback Justin Herbert and could see Pittsburgh as competition for offensive linemen.

    A trade higher up the first round order may be difficult for the Steelers to manage without mortgaging a handful of their 2022 draft picks. Four picks from Nos. 10 to 14 were traded at some point in the 2021 NFL draft. All of those deals required at least two selections in exchange.

    Pittsburgh has six additional picks in the 2022 NFL draft, and three of them come in the sixth or seventh round.

    The Steelers might not be able to conjure up a worthy trade package to move ahead of Baltimore, which may keep them at No. 20 despite their best efforts.

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