ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is projecting the Steelers to draft former Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at pick 49 in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Joining Mike Greenberg on ESPN’s Get Up Tuesday morning, Kiper said that he does not think “(Hurts) gets out of the second round.”
Kiper thinks the Steelers will be the team that pounces on Hurts, as a way of keeping up with the Joneses in the AFC North.
“Think about the Pittsburgh Steelers. They need an heir apparent to Big Ben,” Kiper said. “They’re in a division right now with Lamar Jackson, Mike Tomlin is. With Joe Burrow now going to the Bengals more than likely. And with Baker Mayfield. He knows Big Ben can’t play forever. He needs to start developing that quarterback.”
If the Steelers were to take Hurts with the 49th pick, he would be the highest quarterback drafted by the franchise since taking Roethlisberger 11th overall back in 2004.
Mel Kiper Jr. has the Steelers drafting QB Jalen Hurts 49th. He would be Steelers' highest-drafted QB since taking Big Ben 11th in 2004.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2020
In fact, 5 of 6 teams taking QB in Kiper's mock are looking at their highest-drafted QB since a very successful pick (exception: Raiders). pic.twitter.com/qYpc1NYFqc
Hurts became a Heisman finalist in his lone season at Oklahoma after spending his first three years at Alabama. Under Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley, Hurts threw for 32 touchdowns and over 3,800 yards. He also rushed for 20 scores, the second-most of any quarterback in the country.
Kiper also pointed to the Steelers poor quarterback play in 2019 as reason why the club may want to sure up the position behind Roethlisberger in the short-term and for the future. Pittsburgh had the second-worst passing offense in the league last season, and the team’s 19 interceptions were the fifth-most across the NFL.
Even with Roethlisberger’s age and the inconsistency behind him, general manager Kevin Colbert was adamant back in February that the team is “comfortable” going forward with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges as the team’s backups.