The Mock Draft… Such a rite of passage for us these days. Seems like I was just doing these for 2021 and already here we are going at it in 2022. As I usually do, I offer the following disclaimer. These are selections I envision the Steelers (Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin) making rather than picks that I would make. I also believe the Steelers will use free agency to address linebacker and secondary needs as well which is why those positions aren’t as “in demand” below.
I honestly believe that the Steelers will not draft a quarterback in 2022. They will sign a middle of the road free agent and will roll with Mason Rudolph. If you have a first round grade on a guy then at some point don’t you have to give him a shot? That said, should one of the top four quarterbacks (Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Matt Corral) be available without costing the Steelers anything to get them then yes, I can see it happening. Otherwise, just too many needs elsewhere on the roster.
This current version does include potential compensatory picks. The slots in later rounds are approximate as well.
Round 1 Pick 20: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
When Linderbaum falls to the Steelers at 20 they have no choice but to take him. He’s a leader. He’s a tireless worker in both run blocking and pass protection. His motor never stops and he’s ridiculously consistent. If there is any concern it centers around whether or not he’ll be able to handle some of the bigger, stronger guys on the interior. Other than that, this guy is a must-have.
Reasoning: Did you see the play of the center position in 2021? There has to be an upgrade here.
Round 2 Pick 52: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
At 6’7″ 305lbs, the Austrian born Raimann has the potential to develop into a ten-year type of left tackle. He’s aggressive, athletic and long. He excellent feet and will needs some work in technique areas but the former Chippewa could be exactly what the Steelers have lacked at left tackle.
Reasoning: Dan Moore was such a bright spot for the Steelers as a rookie but I can envision him moving over to the right side. With Raimann, the Steelers finally get a dominant left tackle.
Round 3 Pick 84: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
The former Nebraska Cornhusker made an instant impact upon his arrival in Lexington. He’s 5’11” and about 185lbs and could be a perfect fit in Matt Canada’s system. The former running back would be a prime candidate for jet sweeps and direct handoffs while his receiving skills from the slot would pose an instant problem for opposing defenses. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but his quickness and elusiveness is excellent. He’s also a special teams guy as well.
Reasoning: With JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington likely gone, the Steelers have to replenish their once-stocked wide receiver room and Robinson is a guy who could shake things up a bit.
Round 4 (Compensatory Pick for Bud Dupree): Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford
Booker is incredibly versatile and would allow Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin to deploy him literally anywhere along the defensive front. His speed and quickness are above average but his strength must improve in order to see more snaps as his career moves forward.
Reasoning: The Steelers LOVE versatility and Booker has it. With Tyson Alualu likely back but at 35 years old and Stephon Tuitt in limbo, they have to rebuild here.
Sixth Round Pick 207: Josh Ross, LB, Michigan
A big-time competitor and leader on the field, Ross projects as the prototypical 3-4 inside backer. He has limitations for sure or else he would have gone much earlier. He’s really good at blitzing, especially in the A gap (he’ll remind some of former Wolverine/Steeler Larry Foote in this regard) and he’s a sound tackler. His coverage skills will need work but the Steelers could do far worse here.
Reasoning: Despite what they may do in free agency, re-stocking the linebacker corps is a must and Ross helps that immediately.
Round 7 Pick 231: Josh Thompson, CB, Texas
Thompson is primarily a zone cover type of corner and has the ability to play some safety when necessary. He is an excellent tackler who reads things very well and has no problem doing the dirty work required of a secondary player against the run. His lack of man-to-man experience is a question mark admittedly.
Reasoning: You can NEVER have too many corners and versatile members of the secondary.
Round 7 Pick 237 (Avery Williamson trade): Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Michigan State
Should the Steelers choose to part ways with Derek Watt who they’ve greatly under-utilized, Heyward appears to be a perfect replacement. He would perform immediately on special teams and could be used in a variety of ways offensively. Primarily a running back, he made the switch to more of an H-Back this season could be a very nice complimentary piece in certain offensive packages. And let’s be honest, the Steelers like family connections.
Reasoning: Every time has lunch pail guys. The guys who do the dirty work and ask for nothing in return. Heyward could be that guy.