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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Digest: Top QB Target Declares, Penix to Senior Bowl

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Steelers draft QB Michael Penix Jr.

The Steelers’ draft plans at quarterback are not yet known but there is some movement as the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft has now passed.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix blazed the Texas defense en route to a 37-31 victory in the Sugar Bowl, putting the Huskies in the National Championship. He completed 28 of 36 attempts for 430 yards and two touchdowns against them. While he struggled in the National Championship, he is now on radars, and he accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. Penix will travel to Mobile with other top quarterbacks in the class to showcase what he can do. Pittsburgh has often weighed the Senior Bowl and drafted players from that event.

In Dane Brugler’s new mock draft, the Steelers added center Zach Frazier and cornerback Cooper DeJean with their first two picks. Now that they will pick 20th overall, it is easier to slot in possible picks and destinations, and those two stick out in a positive way.

“One of the top athletes in the draft, DeJean has experience as an outside corner, inside corner and a box/middle-field defender. I’ll be sending a petition for the NFL to add a dunk contest at the combine so we can see DeJean go to work. And we already know he performs well wearing black and gold,” Brugler said.

On Frazier:

“Having grown up 90 miles south of Pittsburgh, Frazier embodies the toughness and physicality you expect from a Steelers offensive lineman. His late-season leg injury clouds his projection a tad, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he became a starting NFL center very early next season,” Brugler said.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is entering the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s a big domino to fall into this hierarchy, as McCarthy could easily be a late first-round pick. If the Steelers are looking to grab a quarterback in the first round, McCarthy feels like the guy who makes the most sense. He has tools but is raw around the edges in significant areas. This is not a bonafide franchise guy right out of the gate and a staff will have to work with him to develop. The good news is he will be just 21 years old during his first NFL season, so he is a young player with upside.