Cam Mellor of Pro Football Network has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell in his latest mock draft, released earlier this week.
The mock is the second for Mellor since the Steelers have been locked into the No. 20 overall selection. In his first, on Jan. 17, he had the Steelers taking NC State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu.
This time, Mellor has the Steelers passing on Ekwonu and fellow offensive lineman Trevor Penning to take Howell, a quarterback they scouted in person multiple times during the 2021 season.
Howell was protected as a top pick in this draft class coming into the 2021 season, but he and the rest of the Tar Heels offense struggled after losing multiple playmakers to the NFL. That could lead to Howell falling to the Steelers at No. 20.
“If Howell can return to the form that saw him dominate the action in 2020 with a star-studded cast, he can absolutely turn the Steelers around,” Mellor wrote. “They’ll need some offensive line help, but they need a quarterback first, and Howell is that guy.”
Mellor had fellow quarterbacks Matt Corral of Ole Miss off the board already when the Steelers picked, but had them taking Howell ahead of Kenny Pickett of Pitt, who went at No. 31 to the Detroit Lions.
The Steelers have obvious needs at quarterback and along the offensive line, as well as defensive line, inside linebacker, cornerback and strong safety as they enter the 2022 offseason.