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2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Houston QB Clayton Tune Could Be Backup of the Future



Steelers NFL Draft prospect Houston QB Clayton Tune

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear set at quarterback for the time being, with 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett entrenched as the team’s starting quarterback and Mitch Trubisky set to return as a well-qualified backup.
But the Steelers have traditionally carried four quarterbacks through training camp and three on their active roster throughout the season, and so there will be some steps made this offseason toward increasing the number of available bodies at the position.

One of those could include drafting one, as the Steelers are using one of their top 30 pre-draft visits to bring a quarterback to Pittsburgh. Houston Cougars passer Clayton Tune will be the first quarterback to come to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on a free-agent visit.

The Steelers previously met with tune at the 2023 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where he was one of the quarterbacks for the American Team. He was nine of 12 for 70 yards in that game in Mobile.

But the Steelers didn’t send much offensive staff to Mobile, with Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, Grady Brown and Denzel Martin representing the team the team at the Senior Bowl.

His pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh will now let Matt Canada, Mike Sullivan and the team’s offensive staff get acquainted with Tune, who played for head coach Dana Holgorsen at Houston.
Holgorsen tutored NFL quarterbacks like Case Keenum, Brandon Weeder and Geno Smith in his previous stops at Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia while working a version of the Hal Mumme and Mike Leach-built Air Raid offense.

New Steelers offensive assistant Glenn Thomas is also a descendent from that branch of the coaching tree, working for Leach and Sonny Dykes at Texas Tech early in his career.

At Houston, Tune took advantage of the opportunities provided by the system. He was already with the Cougars when Hologorsen took over in 2019, but quickly became the starter. In 2021, he passed for 3,544 yards and 30 touchdowns. Returning to school for a redshirt senior season in 2022, he bested even those gaudy numbers, throwing for 4,074 yards and 40 touchdowns, compared to just 10 interceptions.
Tune finished the 2022 season seventh in passing yards, third in touchdowns and 17th in passer rating among all FBS passers.


Clayton Tune RASMeasured at 2023 NFL Combine: 6-foot-2 1/2, 220 pounds, 31 3/8-inch arm span, 9 3/8-inch hands

2023 NFL Combine results: 4.64-second 40-yard dash, 37.5-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-2 broad jump, 6.89-second three-cone drill, 4.25-second shuttle

Relative athletic score: 9.78


Tune has an interesting combination of size, experience and athleticism, but the whole doesn’t seem to add up to the combination of the parts. Though quick, he doesn’t handle pressure well or throw well on the move.

Still, the combination of traits gives Tune upside that most of the rest of the day-three quarterback options in this class does not possess. If you’re looking for the next Brock Purdy to come out of nowhere and impress quickly in the NFL, he’s probably the likeliest candidate in this class.


The Steelers obviously need at least one more quarterback, especially with a pending proposal to allow teams to have a third quarterback play on game days if the first two are injured.

Tune is a relatively similar body style and type of athlete to Pickett, so the team wouldn’t need to make a lot of changes to its offense if he were to step in. The idea behind drafting Tune would be for him to take over Trubisky’s role as Pickett’s backup in 2024 and give the team three years of low-cost backup quarterback play.


The current consensus is that Tune will be taken somewhere around the fifth round, with him sitting at No. 173, according to the NFL Mock Draft Database average.

The Steelers do not have a pick in the fifth or sixth round, so they will have to hope that Tune falls to them for one of their seventh round picks, or make a trade up to go get him.

Clayton Tune NFL Mock Draft Database