With the 2021 NFL season underway, the Pittsburgh Steelers have almost all their focus on this current season and their Week 2 opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders.
Even with the immense focus on this year, the Steelers are still out scouting and preparing for the 2022 NFL Draft and beyond. Even GM Kevin Colbert is making the rounds as he was spotted at North Carolina’s practice this week potentially to take a look at quarterback, Sam Howell.
Below is my “way to early” mock 2022 NFL Draft for the Steelers based on what I think their current needs are going to be as of today.
Round 1 – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
If there is any cornerback in the draft that screams Pittsburgh Steelers, it is McDuffie. He is a 5’11”, 190lbs corner who is the best corner in run support in college football despite his size, as well as a very good cover corner on the outside. There are a lot of similarities between him and Joe Haden, who coincidentally McDuffie might be replacing since Haden is currently scheduled to be a free agent in 2022.
Round 2 – Thayer Munford, OT/OG, Ohio State
Munford will enter the 2022 NFL Draft as a four year starter for the Buckeyes playing multiple positions across their talented offensive line. He has experience at both tackle spots, and now in 2021 has kicked into play left guard. He profiles best as a right tackle or guard in the NFL, but can also play left tackle with some development. He has the prototypical size and build for the position with good hands and explosiveness.
Round 3 – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
The Steelers are likely to need to use multiple picks on the secondary with several members of their 2021 scheduled to be free agents in 2022. One of those is starting safety Terrell Edmunds, and Brisker can potentially be his replacement, and if he is retained, they still have the need for a 3rd safety. Brisker can play both deep on the back end and drop down into the box as he is one of the harder hitting safeties in college. He isn’t currently a great man to man option against slot receivers, but has all the tools to cover opposing tight ends down the field.
Round 3 (Compensatory) – Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
The Steelers always seem to find a gem at WR in rounds 2 or 3 and this year is no different. With three of their five wide receivers set to be free agents in 2022, it makes sense they add to this room in the draft. Demus Jr. is a very physical wide receiver that imposes his will on defensive backs trying to guard him or bring him to the ground. He would excel as in a big slot role working over the middle until he refines his route running to become a full-time outside receiver.
Round 5 (Compensatory) – Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
With Eric Ebron becoming a free agent, the Steelers will need to add to their tight end room next off-season as well. Turner is a very good receiver for the Wolf Pack that is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. He is a bit light at 240lbs, but he is a very willing blocker in the run game. Unfortunately due to his size, he isn’t very consistent in this aspect and doesn’t have enough functional strength to move people off their spot right now consistently, hence why he would be available this late in the draft.
Round 7 (from Jets) – Tyree Johnson, EDGE, Texas A&M
Johnson is a weird one to project as he plays as a standup weakside defensive end of the Aggies that is square to the line of scrimmage. He profiles more as a 3-4 OLB that can standup in a split stance so he can use his athleticism at the snap. He has shown a decent polish with his pass rush moves for someone who rarely gets to use them, so he could be a quick contributor in passing situations on the edge.
Round 7 – Ben Petrula, OL, Boston College
Like Munford who I had the Steelers drafting above, Petrula has experience starting multiple positions on the offensive line including center, right tackle, and right guard. He profiles best as an interior lineman as he has very good strength and physicality in the run game, but his lateral agility is average at best right now. He can offer center/guard flexibility to go with his mauling tendencies to the center of an offensive line.
Well there you have it, a 2022 mock draft that’ll likely look very different come the end of the season. But, as of now this would address many of the Steelers needs heading into next season as it stands today.
Let us know what you think of the 2022 NFL Draft and what prospects you would like to see the Steelers target!