NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew has four teams selecting quarterbacks in the first round of his second mock draft, but the Pittsburgh Steelers instead select offensive tackle Charles Cross with the No. 20 overall pick.
Jones-Drew didn’t write much about the Steelers pick. “The Steelers need help on the offensive line,” wrote Jones-Drew, “and Cross fits the bill as a versatile, high-quality player who can slide in where he’s needed.”
Cross at No. 20 would be an unexciting pick considering the team’s links to quarterbacks throughout the process. That being said, he’d be a bargain for the Steelers. Cross is considered one of the best offensive tackle prospects of the draft and there’s even talk about him being selected No. 5 overall by the New York Giants. Considering the Steelers had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines in 2021, Cross would still fill a major hole for the team. And with the amount of money the team spent on free agent offensive lineman, last year’s weakness could end up becoming a strength with the addition of a player like Cross.
It’s a position that Jones-Drew has had since his first mock draft where he had the Steelers selecting Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning. “Pittsburgh snags one of the toughest and most physical players in this year’s draft class to bolster the front line,” Jones-Drew wrote about the Penning pick at the time. “His grit fits in perfectly with Mike Tomlin’s bunch.”
The Steelers are FanDuel’s betting favorites to land Liberty quarterback Malik Willis and have been linked to a drafting quarterback throughout this off-season by various experts, but still have other needs including offensive tackle that they could address through the draft. In Jones-Drew’s latest mock draft, the Steelers don’t even have a chance to select a quarterback that they may like as the four selected all go within the first ten picks.
The Carolina Panthers start the run on quarterbacks by selecting Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett at No. 6 overall. The Atlanta Falcons then select Liberty’s Malik Willis with the No. 8 overall pick. The Seattle Seahawks, through their No. 9 pick acquired from the Denver Broncos in the Russell Wilson trade, select Cincinatti’s Desmond Ridder. Lastly, the New Orleans Saints trade with the New York Jets for the No. 10 overall pick to select Ole Miss’s Matt Corral. Jones-Drew projects that the Saints send both of their first round picks, recently acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, to the Jets for the right to select Corral.
The NFL Draft is less than a week away with the first round taking place this upcoming Thursday at 8:00 p.m. and can be watched on ABC, ESPN, NFL Network or streamed on ESPN’s mobile app.