The Pittsburgh Steelers are targeting Liberty’s Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft and free agents Mitch Trubisky, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jameis Winston this offseason, according to a report by Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network.
“Word right now is Pittsburgh is targeting Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft,” Pauline wrote. “And though I cannot confirm Pittsburgh is targeting Willis, I do know they like him an awful lot.”
Willis began his collegiate career at Auburn, but burst onto the scene after transferring to Liberty in 2019. He passed for 5,107 yards and 47 touchdowns with 18 interceptions over two seasons as the Flames’ starter.
Willis’ best seasons was just this previous season, as he showed that he was one of the most successful rushing quarterbacks at the college level, accumulating 878 yard and 13 touchdowns. Not only was Willis an adept runner, he also passed for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns last season with the Flames. The Steelers’ staff got a close look at Willis at the 2022 Senior Bowl.
The Steelers are interested in three free agent quarterbacks according to Pauline.
“As far as free agents, I am told they are targeting three signal-callers: ,” Pauline wrote.
Trubisky was a Chicago Bears first round draft pick and the No. 2 pick overall in the 2017 draft ahead of other signal-callers like Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
Trubisky played four seasons with the Bears, accumulating a record of 29-21, throwing for over 10,000 yards and rushing for more than a 1,000. His tenure with the Bears saw tensions between the coaching staff and the fans. Fans believed he never achieved his full potential due to his inconsistent play.and the staff never truly believed he was a true starter.
He spent last season as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s backup and saw little playing time.
Bridgewater was a Minnesota Vikings first round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and had success in his first two seasons with the team. He compiled a record of 17-11 and brought the Vikings to the playoffs in the 2015 season.
Bridgewater struggled after that season, as he suffered an ACL tear, which set his career back a few seasons.
He didn’t make a real comeback until the 2019 season, where he won all five games he started in for the New Orleans Saints.
He then became the starter of the Carolina Panthers, but didn’t have as great of success, going 4-11 in the 2020 season. Bridgewater improved last season, but only went 7-7 overall and missed the playoffs as starter for the Denver Broncos.
Winston was the first overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He never had true success with the team, as his inconsistent play resulted in zero playoff appearances in five seasons.
His inconsistent play saw him throw for an incredible amount of touchdowns, but also inexplicable interceptions as well. In his final season in Tampa Bay, Winston threw 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
He finally found some success with the New Orleans Saints last seasons as their starter, throwing 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He won five of the seven games he started, but an ACL tear ended his season short of finally making his first postseason.
Pauline likes the idea of drafting Willis and partnering him up with one of those free agents in order to help his development as a starter for the Steelers.
“The combination of one of those three QBs plus selecting Willis in the NFL Draft would set the Steelers up both short and long-term,” Pauline wrote.