Steelers Predicted to Pick National Champion QB in January 2024 Mock Draft

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Getty Pittsburgh Steelers predicted to draft national champion J.J. McCarthy

Mock drafts for the Pittsburgh Steelers have finally hit the trifecta.

With the team’s quarterback situation still up in the air heading into the 2024 offseason, many names have been thrown around to fix it.

That includes the names in April’s 2024 NFL draft.

There are six QBs who could be taken in the first round of the draft. The top three, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, are all out of reach for the Steelers.

Other mock drafts have predicted that they’ll draft two of the others in Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr.

Now a mock draft has finally linked them to the other QB.

NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry predicted that the Steelers would use the draft’s 20th pick to select J.J. McCarthy in his January 25 mock draft.

McCarthy is a QB from Michigan who just capped off his career in the best way possible. He beat Penix Jr. to win the national title.

J.J. McCarthy’s College Resumé

When it comes to winning football games, McCarthy’s resumé is very impressive.

In two years as the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines, McCarthy only lost one game.

That loss came in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl against TCU after McCarthy and Michigan had won their first 13 games, including wins over Penn State and Ohio State.

In 2023, McCarthy led Michigan to a perfect season, beating Alabama and Washington in the College Football Playoff to win their first national title since 1997.

His stats are less impressive.

Over his two years as the starter, McCarthy averaged less than 200 passing yards per game.

Michigan leaned on the run game over those two years, partially as part of the game plan and partially because they blew a lot of teams out.

However, it’s kind of concerning how rare it was for McCarthy to really shine at Michigan.

Even down the stretch of his junior season, McCarthy didn’t exactly stand out when compared to the rest of his draft class.

Over the last six games of the year, every team Michigan faced was bowl-eligible.

In those games, McCarthy went over 200 yards once.

That stretch also included a game against Penn State where McCarthy threw the ball eight times and a game against Maryland where he went 12/23 for 141 yards with an interception.

Even in the team’s title-winning effort, McCarthy was only 10/18 for 140 yards.

McCarthy displayed a strong arm and solid accuracy during his time in college, but spending a first-rounder on him is more of a bet on his potential while every other first-round QB was able to more frequently turn their talent into big numbers in college.

Steelers’ 2024 Draft Needs

There are a few different directions the Steelers can go with their first-round pick.

Quarterback is one if they want to have a plan in place in case Kenny Pickett doesn’t get better in 2024.

Cornerback seems like the most likely option. The team made a great pick in last year’s draft, grabbing Joey Porter Jr. to start the second round, but he needs help.

The team doesn’t have a clear answer at the other corner position with Patrick Peterson struggling in coverage on the outside and no other quality starters on the depth chart.

The other option is an offensive lineman. The team badly needs a center, but the expectation has been that they’ll address that need in round two.

However, that isn’t the only spot they need an upgrade on the O-line. They could also draft a tackle to pair with Broderick Jones, who they drafted in the first round last year.

With plenty of weapons around Pickett, the best way the Steelers could set him up to succeed at this point would be improving his protection.

Or maybe they’ll decide to cut their losses and start planning for a future with a different QB.

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