Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports has released his latest mock draft, and has the Pittsburgh Steelers trading up in the first round to select their quarterback of the future.
In the hypothetical, Pittsburgh sends the Los Angeles Chargers its No. 24 and 55 selections and a 2022 third round pick to slide up to No. 13 overall spot. With the 13th pick, Wilson has the Steelers drafting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
“Maybe Big Ben returns for another season, maybe he doesn’t. Either way, the Steelers are looking for their next franchise QB and will have to trade up to get him,” Wilson wrote. “Two decades ago Jones, a traditional pocket passer, would’ve been a top-five pick. In 2021, he’ll be valued less than the more athletic QBs in this class but has a chance to be as good if not better.”
Standing at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, Jones is a prototypical pocket passer and a far cry from the athletic specimens the league has become enamored with at the position over the last decade. Still, he was surgical at Alabama and the number speak for themselves.
A Heisman Trophy finalist in 2020, Jones was outstanding leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship last season. He passed for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Jones’ 77.4% completion percentage was the best in the nation, while also averaging an insane 11.2 yards per attempt.
In terms of the proposed trade, the Steelers do not appear to give up to hefty of a haul to move up the eleven spot necessary to select Jones. Such is the price of sliding forward in the first round.
Trading up to draft Jones would not only be a bold move by a once conservative Steelers organization, but it would also likely signify that current quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not return in 2021.
That being said, there is a scenario where the Roethlisberger remains and tutors Jones before riding off into the sunset. Still, the Steelers would likely use their No. 24 and 55 picks to help the team win now, as opposed to packaging them to move up and draft a quarterback anyways if Roethlisberger were to stick around.
The 2021 NFL Draft gets underway Thursday, April 29 in Cleveland.