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The speculation will finally end on Thursday night, but in the time being, every outlet imaginable is releasing their mock drafts. Most mock drafts have the Steelers selecting a quarterback in the first round, either Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett. The realistic scenario of either quarterback still being on the board at 20th overall is slim, however.
That's why Pro Football Focus has the Steelers trading up with Washington at No. 11 to select Willis. PFF has the Commanders receiving the Steelers' No. 20, No. 52 and 2023 third-round pick in the trade that allows the Steelers to get the No. 11 pick, which is the same spot where the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami of Ohio in 2004.
"If Willis falls outside the top 10, Pittsburgh should be on the phones looking to move up ahead of the Saints to ensure it lands the consensus top quarterback in this class,"Austin Gayle of PFF said. "Trading future first-rounders to get to the very top of the draft should be off the table for the Steelers’ brass considering all the risk embedded in Willis’ profile, but this year’s second-rounder (No. 52) and a future third are much more palatable."
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Giants (No. 7) have received calls from teams about potentially trading into that spot, and the Seahawks (No. 9) has been getting calls for their pick. Fowler says many teams largely expect movement to occur after the top 10 and that the 11-14 range could be the sweet spot.
If Mike Tomlin truly thinks Willis is a future franchise quarterback, the Steelers should trade up for him or select him at 20th overall if he's available. Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans, who have the 16th and 19th overall pick, could be in play for Willis, also.
Willis is the definition of a boom-or-bust player. This year's quarterback draft class is certainly a crapshoot, but Willis' potential and quarterback mobility that Tomlin craves could be worth the risk. Since 1970, the Steelers have drafted a quarterback in the first round just three times -- Terry Bradshaw (1970), Mark Malone (1980) and Ben Roethlisberger (2004). Could Willis be next?