Steelers Connected to QB Prospect Who ‘Turned Heads’ at NFL Combine

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on March 2 that the Pittsburgh Steelers remain one of the top destinations for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a trade. But other pundits have continued to connect the Steelers with quarterback options in the 2024 NFL draft. That includes Michigan signal caller J.J. McCarthy, who had a solid week at the NFL scouting combine.

Mike Tomlin J.J. McCarthy

On March 2, CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani named the Steelers one of the best five fits for for McCarthy.

“The hiring of Arthur Smith as offensive coordinator makes me think McCarthy could be a good fit in Pittsburgh. Some view Smith as an offensive coach who couldn’t get the most out of his top weapons in Atlanta, but what we do know about Smith is that he can build a legitimate rushing attack,” Dajani wrote. “The Atlanta Falcons‘ ground game ranked ninth last year, and third in 2022. During his time as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, Smith’s rushing attack ranked No. 2 in the league in 2020, and No. 3 in 2019.

“McCarthy benefitted from a good defense and a rushing attack — which Pittsburgh will surely have with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Getting to throw the ball to playmakers like George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth would be fun, too.”’s Ryan Zuke wrote that McCarthy “turned heads” at the NFL combine thanks to a few measurables. He weighed more and was taller than expected. McCarthy also performed well in the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle.

J.J. McCarthy’s Performance at the NFL Combine

The Michigan quarterback couldn’t have started combine week any better. But he didn’t excel at the throwing drills on March 2.

While appearing on SportsCenter, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller called McCarthy’s performance in the drills “uneven.”

“You saw the throw to the right there looked beautiful,” Miller said, via Zuke. “Throwing to his left was a lot more uneven during the workout. He settled down nicely, calmed down and found his rhythm. They are throwing to unfamiliar targets, these wide receivers that they’ve not played with before.

“So, McCarthy has some room to grow.”

McCarthy will have another opportunity to throw in front of scouts at his Pro day. That is generally a much more controlled environment because quarterbacks get to work with more familiar pass catchers.

Miller concluded by saying McCarthy could very well still be a top 10 pick in April.

Could McCarthy Fall to the Steelers at No. 20?

It would be ironic if the Steelers nabbed McCarthy at No. 20 overall in the 2024 NFL draft. Just two years ago, that’s the exact position where the Steelers selected quarterback Kenny Pickett.

NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry predicted the Steelers to draft McCarthy at No. 20 overall in his mock draft on January 25. But most mock drafts in February had McCarthy going much earlier in the NFL draft.

Zuke called McCarthy a projected top-15 pick and “the leader of the second tier” of quarterbacks in the 2024 draft class. The first tier of quarterbacks could go in the first three selections of the draft.

As Miller stated, McCarthy could be a top 10 pick as well. On February 23, The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs predicted McCarthy to land at No. 6.

Although his combine performance wasn’t perfect, it’s probably not going to drop McCarthy’s draft stock. So, more than likely, McCarthy will be off the board when the Steelers make their first selection at No. 20 overall.

On February 23, CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli predicted the Steelers to trade up to No. 9 to draft McCarthy.

It remains to be seen if that’s a serious possibility for Pittsburgh. But if the Steelers consider themselves a perfect fit for the Michigan quarterback and want to target him, they will likely have to trade up, perhaps into the top 10, to land him.

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