Steelers discuss quarterback position ahead of NFL Draft: Mike Tomlin names one thing he looks for in a QB

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you know that the Steelers are expected to select a quarterback during the 2022 NFL Draft. Specifically, Pittsburgh is expected to spend either a first or second-round pick on a quarterback. The Steelers hold the 20th and 52nd overall picks in the draft, which will begin Thursday night.

While they are expected to draft a quarterback, the Steelers would comfortable with their current situation quarterback that includes Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. Both players are expected to compete to be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback for the upcoming season.

“I felt good about the process,” longtime Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said about the team’s pre-draft work regarding the quarterback class. “Coach and I met more with that position than we have (in the past). Quarterback is the most critical position in our sport. We have to get that right. Could we add somebody? Yes. Could we start the season without adding anybody Yes. We’ll see where it all goes.”

Along with scouting the Senior Bowl and attending various pro days, the Steelers’ held pre-draft interviews at the team facility with quarterbacks Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, Carson Strong and Chris Oladokun. Many mock drafts have had the Steelers taking Willis with the 20th overall pick. Other mock drafts, like the one recently from CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilsonhas the Steelers choosing an offensive lineman in the first round and using the 52nd overall pick on a quarterback.

The Steelers haven’t drafted a quarterback in the first two rounds of the draft since 2004. With the 11th pick in that draft, Colbert and the Steelers selected former Miami of Ohio quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh then went 18 years without having to worry about the position, as Roethlisberger put together a Hall of Fame career that included helping the Steelers win the franchise’s fifth and sixth Lombardi Trophies. Roethlisberger’s retirement in January began the process of finding his successor.

“I enjoy the process of having a heightened urgency for a position,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday. “It seems like, a year ago, we really chopped up the running backs in a similar way. I know that the process that we’ve gone through in terms of getting to know the quarterback pool has gained some attention, but it’s not ( an uncommon) process for us in terms of locking in and getting a feel for a certain pool within the pool, if you will.”

Earlier this offseason, Tomlin and Colbert both acknowledged that mobility is something they value in the quarterback position. On Monday, Tomlin shared one of the intangible qualities he looks for out of the position.

“I think that’s the ultimate competitor’s position,” he said. “So, those that run to and not from competition, those that embrace competition and the intensity of it and the anxiety maybe associated with it, I think they have a leg up.

“Obviously, there’s some pedigree-related things per the position; arm strength, accuracy and so forth. But … the intangible quality associated with competition, I think, is something that is valuable.”

Along with quarterback, the hope is that the Steelers’ rookie class can add competition as it relates to the starting lineup. During free agency, Pittsburgh was able to add players who, according to Colbert, gives the team a starting-caliber player at each position. Along with signing Trubisky, the Steelers acquired cornerback Levi Wallace, linebacker Myles Jack, offensive linemen Mason Cole and James Daniels, and former All-Pro special teams ace Gunner Olszewski. Pittsburgh also filled its need at strong safety by re-signing former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds.

Along with quarterback, receiver and defensive line are two areas the Steelers are expected to add to during the draft. Pittsburgh, who signed former Raven Miles Boykin last week, still needs to add more to its receiving corps after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud during free agency. Pittsburgh’s defensive line could also use more reinforcements after the unit finished last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2021.

This year’s draft will be the final one for Colbert as the Steelers’ general manager. During his first 22 drafts, Colbert was able to select many players who would go onto enjoy long NFL careers while helping the Steelers win division, AFC and Super Bowl titles. When asked to name his favorite draft class, Colbert inadvertently shared his current focus as it relates to the work at hand this week.

“I hope this one’s the best one,” Colbert said.

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