Pro Football Focus has released predictions for where the top free agents, trade targets and draft prospects at the quarterback position will land this offseason, and have the Pittsburgh Steelers picking their next signal caller in the first round.
PFF believes the Steelers will select former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft, and will trade up to do it.
“It’s no secret that Pittsburgh really likes the prospects of Malik Willis being their future starting quarterback,” PFF’s Anthony Treash wrote. “From ownership to head coach Mike Tomlin, several individuals within the Steelers organization have harped on the importance of mobility at the quarterback position, and Willis checks that box.”
The Steelers showed significant interest in Willis at the Senior Bowl, even going so far as to track down his parents.
Willis was one of the most successful rushing quarterbacks at the college level as season ago accumulating 878 yard and 13 touchdowns. PFF’s analysis supports that as well.
“(Willis) led all FBS quarterbacks in rushing grade (94.5), 10-plus yard runs (46) and broken tackles (90) in 2021,” Treash wrote. “Willis also has a lively arm that helped him to an FBS-leading 11% big-time throw rate last season.”
Not only was Willis an adept runner, he also passed for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns last season with the Flames.
While Pittsburgh is certainly in need of a quarterback, PFF is right that they will likely have to move up in the first round to secure their guy. The top quarterbacks in the draft almost never fall to where the Steelers draft at No. 20, and the Steelers could find themselves needing to leap the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Washington Commanders and New Orleans Saints, who are seeking their quarterback of the future as well.