Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft starting on April 29th, we will be releasing several draft profiles of prospects who could potentially see themselves on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Next up…
Sam Ehlinger (Quarterback), Texas, Senior
Everyone has something to say about Sam Ehlinger. Some analysts love him as a future NFL quarterback, some hate him. With a sub-par showing at the Senior Bowl earlier this year, Ehlinger’s draft stock has fallen and he is looking to be more of a value pick later in the draft. With the return of Ben Roethlisberger for his presumed final ride in 2021, the future of the quarterback in Pittsburgh is still in question. Although the Steelers don’t have an immediate need for a day one starting quarterback, they may want to consider a deep value pick and potential project for new quarterbacks coach, Mike Sullivan.
Ehlinger brings great grit, passion, and leadership to the locker room. During his time at Texas, he was named captain for the 2019 and 2020 seasons by his teammates. Ehlinger played in a plethora of big time games at Texas and is used to fighting for all four quarters. Ehlinger has great mobility and elite ball fake skills. He also processes great anticipation on throws and is good about throwing his receivers open. As we’ve seen with Roethlisberger, Ehlinger is effective in improvising on broken plays and is poised under pressure in the pocket. At 6’1” and weighing 220 pounds, Ehlinger uses his size to his advantage in picking up crucial yardage on the ground and isn’t afraid to get hit.
Although Ehlinger is a larger sized quarterback, his arm strength is below average. He is effective in short to mid-range passes but seems to lack the strength to throw the ball over 40 yards downfield. In today’s NFL, we’ve learned a strong arm is a major asset to an effective offense (see Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, and Matt Ryan). In addition, Ehlinger has trouble throwing on the run and loses accuracy and vision when he is on the move. At the Senior Bowl, he showed difficulty in looking safeties off the ball and gave up too early on plays. This led to a 40% completion rate and leaving NFL scouts and coaches unimpressed.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 6nd Round
Mock drafts and analysts have Ehlinger being selected anywhere from the 5th round to the 7th. I imagine he’ll fall to the 6th. This means that teams will need to see Ehlinger as a value player as opposed to a day one starter. Therefore teams who would consider Ehlinger are those with a comfortable current starter, but are currently planning for the future. Does this sound familiar, Steeler Nation?
Ehlinger is not an NFL starter as of where we stand today. He is definitely a deep, value selection as I don’t anticipate teams trading to get him in the middle rounds. With this being Coach Sullivan’s first draft with us, I will be interested to see the type of quarterback he favors, along with Matt Canada’s new scheme. I think Ehlinger’s intangibles, leadership, passion, and competitiveness overshadow his below average arm strength. If Ehlinger is provided the tools to become a starting NFL quarterback, he will flourish. If Ehlinger is available for the Steelers after the 5th rounds, I say go get him. With a year behind a veteran quarterback and an uncertain starter in 2022, Ehlinger could bring deep value to the Steelers quarterback room.
Where do you think Ehlinger will land in April? Let us know in the comments below!