The Steelers had their pre-draft press conferences on Monday. As expected, they didn’t tip their hand regarding the quarterback they’d draft at No. 20 — if any.
Different opinions have been making the rounds regarding whether the Steelers would take Malik Willis of Liberty or Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, if both are available. Peter King’s mock draft has the Steelers taking Pickett — and Willis plunging out of round one. Simms has Pittsburgh taking Willis. The PointsBet draft odds continue to have Willis as the favorite to be the first quarterback taken in the draft.
So who would it be, if both are there at No. 20? Coach Mike Tomlin wants an “ultimate competitor.” In the ultimate offseason NFL competition, it won’t be a surprise if someone tries to cut the line before the Steelers can get either guy. Or maybe one or both will be taken by one of the teams already selecting ahead of the Steelers.
The Steelers are surely aware of the stakes. They went 20 years between franchise quarterbacks after Terry Bradshaw retired. Now, maybe they’ll jump on another potential franchise quarterback in the first draft after Ben Roethlisberger called it a career.
Here’s one thing to not rule out — the Steelers literally jumping the line. They did it in 2003 for safety Troy Polamalu, in 2006 for receiver Santonio Holmes, and in 2019 for linebacker Devin Bush. If there’s a player they really like and if they think he won’t be there, they’ll go get him.
With plenty of teams looking to trade down, and if the Steelers truly believe in Pickett or Willis, why wait to see if he’ll fall to No. 20? If whoever they want works out, no one will remember whatever they gave up to go get him. If there’s any doubt that they’ll be leapfrogged, they should just go get him.