Steelers Named ‘Best Scheme Fit’ for 2 Top QBs in 2022 NFL Draft

Mike Tomlin

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during pregame warm-ups at Heinz Field on December 5, 2021.

At this point there appears to be consensus among NFL observers about the Top 5 quarterbacks available in the 2022 NFL Draft, even if there is little agreement about who is the so-called QB1.

“All five has shown moments of greatness on the field but still come with a number of question marks,” says Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus (PFF), referring to Malik Willis (Liberty), Kenny Pickett (Pitt Panthers), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Sam Howell (North Carolina) and Matt Corral (Mississippi).

“That means finding the best schematic fit for them is of utmost importance,” adds Galina, part of his analysis of the Best Scheme Fits for the Top 5 quarterbacks in the 2022 Draft. “The teams that draft these quarterbacks will have to fit their schemes around them — not the other way around.”

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that the Pittsburgh Steelers are identified as among the best fits for two of the five above-named signal callers.


Malik Willis, For One

“It’s hard to find a specific area where Willis excels as a passer schematically,” says Galina about Liberty’s Malik Willis, who has been likened to former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart. “There was an inconsistency to what he saw and felt he could throw — or just flat out didn’t see. Obviously, to maximize his skill set, he’ll need to be given quarterback-designed run schemes.”

That said, PFF believes that the Steelers and “what the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles did with Jalen Hurts” are his best scheme fits.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers’ passing attack designed by offensive coordinator Matt Canada will be interesting to watch,” writes PFF’s analyst. “With an aging Ben Roethlisberger at the helm last year, they didn’t try to overcomplicate things. Even if there is to be a shift in what Canada ran while he was a college coach, his use of defined half-field reads could help.”

That helps explain why the Steelers have been predicted to trade up for Willis in the forthcoming draft, and why it’s been said that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlinreally wants” Willis.

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Sam Howell, For Another

“As is the case for Willis, the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ offense would work really well for Howell,” begins Galina. “One of Matt Canada’s base pass concepts as a college offensive coordinator was ‘snag/spot,’ which Howell saw a lot in Phil Longo’s North Carolina offense,” he continues.

“Canada’s RPO schemes with the Steelers would also fit Howell,” he adds, explaining how “(i)n that offense, the quarterback is given a pre-snap RPO read and a post-snap RPO read. With the way Howell is willing to operate in closing pockets, he can handle pulling the ball late on an RPO throw and still getting an accurate throw off to most areas of the field.”


Best Scheme Fits for Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett

In case you’re wondering, PFF pairs Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder with the Miami Dolphins and Matt Corral of Ole Miss with the 2017-20 scheme of the Los Angeles Rams.

As for Pitt Panther Kenny Pickett: “To a certain degree, what Kliff Kingsbury does with the Arizona Cardinals could work,” writes Galina, “(b)ut conceptually, a team from the Andy Reid tree with a heavy usage of 3-by-1 (trips) formations would help Pickett have a clear view of how the defense reacts to those formational stressors pre-snap.”

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