Steelers Draft Projection Sees ‘Big Upside’ in Picking Undervalued QB

After drafting Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t take another quarterback before Day 3 for 14 years, when they drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round in 2018. But pundits have argued the Steelers could pursue quarterbacks early in the draft just two offseasons after selecting Kenny Pickett.

Omar Khan Jordan Travis

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor is the latest reporter to consider the possibility, when she predicted the Steelers would target Florida State’s Jordan Travis at No. 84 overall in the 2024 NFL draft.

“At his end-of-season news conference, coach Mike Tomlin said Kenny Pickett will resume his status as the team’s starting quarterback in 2024 but will have competition,” Pryor wrote on January 31. “Travis’ season ended prematurely with a left lower-leg injury that will likely hamper him in the pre-draft evaluation period, but taking a swing on him could have big upside for the Steelers.

“Travis is undersized, but his mobility, playmaking ability and pocket presence make him an intriguing prospect in a league that increasingly values quarterbacks with versatile skill sets to run the offense.”

Draft analysts will likely consider taking Travis in the third round a big swing. Pryor’s colleagues at ESPN have Travis ranked as the ninth-best quarterback and 145th overall player in the class.

The Pro Football Focus big board placed Travis at 141st overall. PFF also had him ranked ninth among signal callers.

Bleacher Report’s draft experts, though, didn’t have Travis rated as one of the top 150 players in the class.

What Jordan Travis Would Bring to Steelers

Travis’ last college start that ended in a loss came on October 15, 2022. That fact alone won’t get him drafted, but it’s an impressive feat that could get him more notice.

Before suffering a season-ending leg injury, Travis led the Seminoles to an 11-0 record in 2023. He also had a 63.9% completion percentage with 2,756 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.

In 2022, he had 24 touchdowns with just 5 picks. Travis averaged 8.8 yards per pass over his final 24 college games.

Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings had positive things to write about Travis. But he would also likely conclude drafting him at No. 84 overall is a reach.

“Purely off his film grade, Travis grades out as an early-to-mid Day 3 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, who could be sought after as a backup in that range,” Cummings wrote. “His injury may complicate his capital, but Travis has enough physical talent and more than enough experience to be a valuable component in an NFL QB room.

“Travis’ arm strength is only above average at best. He’ll also be 24 years old as a rookie. But outside of those notes, he’s a smart, competitive, and well-rounded presence whose athleticism and creation capacity are at the very pinnacle of his position group.”

Steelers Searching for Quarterback Competition

As Pryor wrote, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stressed the team wants to add competition for Pickett in 2024.

While speaking to the media on January 29, Steelers president Art Rooney II emphasized how much the team needs to improve behind center. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly argued that Rooney put Pickett on notice.

“I think the biggest thing we need is quality play at the quarterback position,” Rooney said. “Mason Rudolph came in and showed, I think, what we’re capable of when we do get quality play at the quarterback position.”

The Steelers prefer that competition for Pickett to come from Mason Rudolph. But he will be a free agent in March.

That makes the Steelers adding quarterback competition in the draft a distinct possibility. If the team doesn’t take a risk in the first round, a big swing on a prospect such as Travis on Day 2 or 3 could be on the table.

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