PITTSBURGH -- The 2022 NFL draft has concluded.
Round 1, No. 20 overall: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
My take: The Steelers had their choice of quarterbacks with the No. 20 overall pick, and they went with the option who was the most NFL ready. Though Liberty's Malik Willis likely has a higher ceiling, the Steelers opted to go for Pickett, who Mike Tomlin said has the highest floor. Pickett also believes he's a good fit with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who recruited the quarterback to Pitt before he departed to coach Maryland. But will Pickett develop into the next Steelers great, and can he manage the pressure that will come with succeeding Ben Roethlisberger? And how will the Steelers manage a quarterback room with the free-agency addition of Mitch Trubisky, as well as Mason Rudolph?
Accuracy matters: In explaining why the Steelers coveted Pickett, Tomlin cited his accuracy. The most accurate quarterback in the 2022 draft class, Pickett completed 67.2% of his attempts and threw 42 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions in his fifth-year senior season, an improvement from completing 61.1% of his throws a year earlier.
Much ado about nothing Remember those concerns about Pickett's hand size? The Steelers weren't worried about it in the slightest. Pickett's hand size measured 8 5/8 inches at Pitt's pro day in August, significantly smaller than most NFL quarterbacks. "Honestly, I never paid attention to it," general manager Kevin Colbert said. "I believe it was the Clemson game, and there were other scouts here, and they said, 'You know he's got a small hand?' And I said, 'No, thanks for sharing.' But it really didn't matter, because it was never a factor. His fumble rate was not anywhere near a problem. He could certainly throw the football."
Round 2, No. 52 overall: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
My take: With the departures of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ray-Ray McCloud and James Washington, the Steelers badly needed to replenish the coffers at wide receiver. They did just that by selecting George Pickens, a 6-foot-3 receiver from Georgia. Pickens gives first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett a downfield target who showed strong catching abilities and ball-tracking skills during his college career. He's more of an outside threat than a slot receiver -- though offensive coordinator Matt Canada said Pickens can play inside or outside -- leaving the Steelers still searching for a replacement for Smith-Schuster and McCloud. But Pittsburgh needed a consistent wide receiver to add to a room that also includes Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, and Pickens fits that bill.
Round 3, No. 84 overall: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
My take: With Stephon Tuitt's future still up in the air, the Steelers needed to add depth to the defensive line. Leal fits the bill as a versatile defensive lineman who can play both inside and outside. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said they'll start Leal at defensive end, but at 6-foot-4, 283 pounds, he'll have to get bigger. With an aging defensive line in Cam Heyward (32), Tyson Alualu (34) and Tuitt (28), adding young players with versatility is a smart move.
What’s next: With three major needs hit in the first three rounds, the Steelers have four selections on Day 3 -- one fourth, one sixth and two seventh-round picks -- beginning with No. 138 overall. But after the fourth-round pick, the Steelers are currently scheduled to wait 70 picks before making their next selection at No. 208 overall. The Steelers could use their final picks to address needs at defensive back, linebacker and running back.
Round 4, No. 138 overall: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
My take: Here's the next Steelers slot receiver. At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Austin fits the bill as a replacement for Ray-Ray McCloud and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Austin has blazing speed, too, running a 4.32 40-yard dash, and he was a track sprinter at Memphis before joining the football team as a preferred walk-on. Though Austin is a natural fit at slot, his speed makes him versatile, and he could be a weapon on the outside, too. Austin joins George Pickens as receivers drafted by the Steelers in 2022, further replenishing the position group.
Round 6, No. 208 overall: Connor Heyward, HB/TE, Michigan State
My take: Should've seen this one coming from a mile away. The Steelers love football families, and Connor is the younger brother of All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. But he's more than just a little brother. He can be a swiss army knife for the offense as an halfback, tight end and special teams contributor. Now the Steelers have to decide if they'll keep two sets of brothers with the Heywards and the Watts.
Round 7, No. 225 overall: Mark Robinson, LB, Ole Miss
My take: Robinson is a developmental player, only playing one year of linebacker at Ole Miss after converting from running back. At 5-11, 235 pounds, Robinson figures to fit best on the inside, although linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant Brian Flores didn't commit to a position for his new draft pick. He'll have a steep learning curve, but Flores believes he has a high ceiling.
Round 7, No. 241 overall: Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State
My take: The Steelers said they wanted to go into training camp with four quarterbacks, and they rounded out the group with their final pick. Oladokun is a mobile quarterback that had 3,164 passing yards. The Steelers brought him in for a visit, one Oladokun said went well. He could wind up being a solid practice squad member or a No. 3 quarterback.