Draft Simulators See 2 Top QBs Among Steelers’ Most Likely Picks

Kenny Pickett Pitt Panthers

Logan Whitton/Getty Images Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Panthers attempts a pass against the Wake Forest defense during the ACC Championship game on December 4, 2021.

We’re now less than two weeks away from finding out whether the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to select a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With that as part of the backdrop, Larry Holder of The Athletic recently ran 20 first-round simulations from Pro Football Network (PFN) and The Draft Network (TDN), both of which feature their own proprietary draft simulators.

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Pro Football Network Prefers Kenny Pickett

For what it’s worth, Pitt Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett was the most popular result in the PFN simulations, coming up as the Steelers’ first-round pick one-quarter of the time. On three other occasions the Steelers selected Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, and twice landed USC wide receiver Drake London.

On four other occasions the Steelers were seen to have executed a trade, including one with the Houston Texans (to land center Tyler Linderbaum), plus two others with the Washington Commanders, one to get Corral — the preferred choice of celebrity Steelers fan Bret Michaels — and another for interior offensive lineman Zion Johnson of Boston College.

Meanwhile, TDN’s simulator turned out to be much less quarterback-oriented, with Pickett coming up three times, this as compared to defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt of Georgia, who was Pittsburgh’s selection six times.

“Wyatt played primarily as a three-technique defensive tackle and also played nose in a 3-4 at Georgia. He’d fit the Steelers’ scheme,” notes Holder, before adding that “Cam Heyward and Tyson Alualu are still playing well, but they’ve been in the league quite a while. And there’s some questions about Stephon Tuitt’s health.”

Those are the main reasons that the Steelers might choose to go with a defensive lineman in the first round, even though there is more of a current need at other positions, including quarterback, wide receiver and possibly strong safety, assuming the Steelers don’t re-sign Terrell Edmunds or otherwise address the position in free agency.

Two other popular choices for TDN are the aforementioned Zion Johnson (three times), as well as Washington Huskies cornerback Trent McDuffie (five times). McDuffie hasn’t often been mentioned in the same breath as the Steelers, but Conor McQuiston of Pro Football Focus regards the Steelers as his “best NFL team fit.”

Moreover, with longtime CB1 Joe Haden likely moving on, the Steelers could use a young cornerback with lockdown potential, one who can grow into the role while recently signed Levi Wallace and recently re-signed Ahkello Witherspoon serve as opening day starters.

New Orleans Saints Select Chase Claypool in 2020 Re-Draft

Meanwhile, on Saturday April 16 Bleacher Report re-drafted the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and the name of one 2020 Steelers pick came up in the discussion, pretty remarkable in that Pittsburgh didn’t have a first-round selection in 2020.

In Alex Ballentine’s re-draft, Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool gets selected No. 24 overall by the New Orleans Saints, this as compared to his actual draft position (No. 49 overall).

“Claypool has put up two solid seasons in Pittsburgh, where he has had to share targets with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster,” writes Ballentine, before noting that the version of Ben Roethlisberger he has played with hasn’t helped him reach his full potential.”

Indeed the hope is that Claypool can return to producing like he did as a rookie, when he scored 11 total touchdowns (nine receiving, two rushing) and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in a record-setting Week 5 outing against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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