By Jeremy Hritz
Happy Draft Day, Studians! What a glorious day that it is!
Earlier this week, I published my final mock (6.0) in episode #300 of the Study Session, but I also wanted to provide a written version as well. In episode #300, I go into greater detail about the selections, and I encourage you to check that out HERE if you haven’t already done so. Many of the players I mock in 6.0 I have written about in previous editions with some slight changes. Come Sunday, we will see just how accurate, or completely off, I was with this exercise. Enjoy!
Round #1, Pick #20: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
No change here in round #1. Everyone is on the Malik Willis train, but I think many are overlooking Sam Howell. Nobody has thrown more passes, for more yards, and for more touchdowns of the Big 5 QBs in HS and college than Howell. In terms of experience, it’s all about throws in games, and nobody has done it more. And I’d be remiss not to mention he throws the best deep ball out of this class, averaging 9.2 YPA, something this Steelers team values, and best of all, he is only 21 years. Say hello to your new franchise QB.
Round #2, Pick #52: Nick Cross, S, Maryland
Yes, they just re-signed Terrell Edmunds, but it is only for a 1 year deal, and I’m not convinced they believe he is the future. Cross tested extremely well at the Combine and is an explosive athlete, on top of being an enforcer as a strong safety. Add in the Mike Tomlin connection with his son being Cross’s roommate at Maryland, and you can read the tea leaves. Cross allows the Steelers a transitional year at SS, giving Edmunds the start, but getting Cross snaps to ensure a full change in 2023.
Round #3, Pick #84: Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
I struggled here about whether or not to go wide receiver, but the Steelers always find gems in the later rounds. Marcus Jones gives the Steelers a physical, fast, and explosive slot corner who plays the game at a high level of intensity and becomes (hopefully) the next Mike Hilton. A little on the smaller side, but dude packs a wallop. Gets snaps from day #1 and contributes on this defense.
Round #4, Pick #138: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
The Steelers get their blazing fast wide receiver in round #4, and it’s Tyquan Thornton. While he does not run the full compliment of routes, that is not what this team needs. However, at 6’2, and running a 4.28 40, that tells you everything you need to know. Is he a one-trick pony? Yes. But that is the trick that has been absent from this Steelers offense for years. Will need some development.
Round #6, Pick #208: Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina
Howell is reunited with his RB in Ty Chandler. A player I liked since the beginning of the offseason. Fast, compact, and productive in college, will be a complimentary runner to Najee Harris and will provide some lightning to his thunder. May be wishful thinking that he is available in round #6.
Round #7, Pick #225: Marquan McCall, NT, Kentucky
As much as Thornton is a one-trick pony wide receiver, Marquan McCall is a one-trick pony nose tackle. A massive space eater who can eat up blocks and clog the middle, McCall is a project in the 7th round. Not a well-rounded defensive lineman, but the Steelers need a big body at nose.
Round #7, Pick #241: Carson Wells, OLB, Colorado
With their final pick, the Steelers select the guy with hearts and smarts, and a little athletic ability, too, at OLB. Carson Wells is a high-motor, high-effort, loves-the-game player who will be an immediate contributor on special teams, and in time, can provide snaps at the edge position. Will need development, but could grow into a fringe Steelers Nation favorite.