Way-Too-Early 2022 Draft Needs: Pittsburgh Steelers

Oct 10, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Trent Pennix (26) celebrates with Wolfpack offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu (79) after scoring a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The way-too-early series has returned! Today, we discuss the Black and Gold, and where they may end up looking in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Steelers find themselves in a very interesting position. Ben Roethlisberger is giving it one last go this year, but it really seems like this is the farewell tour for Pittsburgh’s legendary QB. This is still a talented Steelers team coached by Mike Tomlin though, so they shouldn’t be near the top of the draft. That assumption essentially eliminates all the top QB prospects. The organization may have to get creative in this draft; here are a couple players that may end up on the draft board.

G Ikem Ekwonu (NC State)

Ekonwu is probably not going to be a first round pick given that he projects as a guard. This is the perfect place for Pittsburgh to look for improvement along their o-line, though. The Steelers have a void at the position after their release of Pro-Bowler David DeCastro. Unless a young player steps up, they very well may carry that void into the 2022 Draft.

Ekwonu would be an excellent Day Two selection as his run blocking is one of the best in this draft. With Najee Harris taking over the reins in the backfield, this would be a great way to open up lanes for the dynamic back. Secondly, Ekwonu in theory could be kicked out to tackle when necessary. He played LT for the second half of the 2020 season, and at the very least held his own. The versatility could add to his value come draft weekend.

The knocks on Ekwonu are a lot of the same ones that prevent bigger guards from being reliable tackles in the NFL. He doesn’t have great foot speed or athleticism, and he isn’t super long. Because of that, making him a pass blocker on the outside is not something you want to do on a consistent basis. If you give him a beefy defensive tackle to stop, though, he’s going to do just that. Once Ekonwu digs his cleats into the turf, there’s no moving him.

QB J.T. Daniels (Georgia)

J.T. Daniels is a player that we’ve mentioned before on TDT. If you want to see a full breakdown on him, you can find that article here. He has all the tools to become a great NFL quarterback if he can remain healthy. Because of that, he may be off the board by the time Pittsburgh selects (my guess would be the Steelers select in the early 20s again). If for whatever reason he ends up as late first-early second round projection, Pittsburgh would be wise to jump on this chance.

Daniels has had a rough go of things to this point in his collegiate career, and that has kept him low on mock drafts to this point. However, things have finally started turning around for him at Georgia after an impressive 4-0 stretch to close the 2020 season.

To this point, the former high school prodigy looks very much like a traditional pocket passer. He has a strong arm and very smooth footwork that allows him to slide around the pocket. Accuracy on his throws has consistently improved over the years too; another promising sign for any NFL team keeping an eye on him.