Steelers Urged to Consider Selection That ‘Would Change Everything’ at No. 20

Mike Tomlin Michael Penix Jr.

Getty Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio argued Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers should at least consider drafting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. at No. 20 overall.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made six separate quarterback transactions this offseason. Entering the NFL draft, they will have three signal callers on their 2024 roster. But that hasn’t stopped analysts from suggesting the Steelers as a first-round landing spot for Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio didn’t just state Penix as a possibility at No. 20 overall for the Steelers. On April 24, Florio argued the Steelers may view Penix as the best first-round value they can find.

“They don’t waste their time, and they brought him in for a visit,” Florio said of the Steelers and Penix while appearing on 93.7 The Fan on April 24. “So if he’s there at No. 20, I think you at least consider it.

“You’ve got Russell Wilson and Justin Fields under contract for this year. [But] Michael Penix could be the plan for next year. That would change everything.”

ESPN’s Brad Henderson wrote on March 28 that the Steelers were one of five teams that scheduled a pre-draft visit with Penix. The others were the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos.

Penix has been a very polarizing prospect throughout the draft process. The NFL Mock Draft Database reported Penix has gone in the first round of only 45.6% of NFL mock drafts.

However, some mock drafts rank him as a top 15 selection. Therefore, teams with quarterback questions could face pressure to take Penix in the second half of the first round.

Could the Steelers Really Select QB Michael Penix Jr?

93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi tweeted a summary of what Florio said about the possibility of Pittsburgh targeting Penix at No. 20 overall. Judging by the replies, the average Steelers fan finds it difficult to believe that it’s a possibility.

“Better chance of Jesus Christ rising from the dead and announcing the 20th pick than there is them taking a QB,” 1933 Black and Gold wrote on X. “Come on man.”

But with Omar Khan as general manager, Steelers fans are quickly learning to never say never. Six weeks ago, signing Russell Wilson or trading for Justin Fields were far from guarantees, and the Steelers did both.

So, the Steelers drafting Penix probably shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. Florio argued why during one of his previous radio visits that 93.7 The Fan played as a clip to tease his upcoming segment on April 24.

“You want all possibilities to be on the table. Would it be stunning for the Steelers to take a quarterback given what they’ve done this year and given that they can basically evaluate Russell Wilson and Justin Fields each for a full year and decide what to do for 2025? That would be surprising,” Florio said. “But they’ve already kicked the tires on Michael Penix Jr. So, if he’s floating around at 20, I’d say it’s a possibility that the Steelers could take him there.

“They’ve done their homework there. We don’t know if they liked or didn’t like what they saw when they did their homework. But maybe at the end of the day, if Penix is there, best available player. Whatever justification you want to give [it could happen].”

In six college seasons, Penix posted a 63.3% completion percentage and averaged 8.2 yards per pass with 96 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. Last year, he threw for 4,903 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Steelers Created Smokescreen Around Penix?

The other possibility, which seems much more likely, is the Steelers are creating the illusion of interest in Penix. That could potentially drive up the price for any team interested in trading for Pittsburgh’s No. 20 pick to select the Washington quarterback.

That would explain why the Steelers hosted Penix for a pre-draft visit.

“Maybe [the Steelers] see that as a spot to trade the pick to get Michael Penix to someone else,” Florio said. “Some teams like to really know the player so they can properly evaluate the pick. Because at that point, you aren’t trading for the pick, you are trading for the player.”

Even if the Steelers are openly not interested in Penix, they could ask for more in a trade for the No. 20 pick if they are aware of exactly how good of a prospect he is.

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