Steelers Projected to Add ‘Different Element’ to QB Room

Even though Kenny Pickett was on the bench, the idea of the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft lost steam after the team won its final three regular season games. But intriguing quarterback prospects could still be available for the Steelers in the second round. That’s what Pro Football Network’s A.J. Schulte predicted when he slotted Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the Steelers in his latest 2024 NFL mock draft.

Mike Tomlin Michael Penix Jr.

On January 27, Schulte projected the Steelers to select Penix at No. 51 overall in the second round.

“Michael Penix Jr.‘s draft stock varies from scout to scout, but I kept running out of reasons for him not landing with the Steelers,” Schulte wrote. “Penix adds a different element to the Steelers’ quarterback room with his downfield ability and pocket management.”

Penix completed 65.4% of his passes for 4,903 yards, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt, during his senior season in 2023. He also had 36 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

Penix led Washington to a perfect regular season, Pac-12 championship and a berth in the national championship game.

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers Select QB Michael Penix Jr. in Second Round?

NFL mock draft experts have previously connected Penix with the Steelers in January. USA Today’s For the Win’s Christian D’Andrea projected the Steelers to grab Penix in his NFL mock draft on January 10.

D’Andrea slotted Penix to Pittsburgh for similar reasons as Schulte did. Penix will bring something that the Steelers don’t already have behind center.

“Penix can be the deep shot savant Pittsburgh hoped it was getting in Kenny Pickett,” D’Andrea wrote. “And with a selection outside the top 20, he’d be only a modest risk for a team in need of a franchise QB.”

Obviously, the big difference in D’Andrea’s mock draft was he had the Steelers selecting Penix at No. 23 overall.

The Pro Football Focus draft big board has Penix ranked at No. 20 among all NFL prospect in the upcoming class. The ESPN big board has the Washington signal caller rated at No. 30.

Therefore, it seems doubtful Penix will stay on the board past the first round let alone to No. 51 overall.

But if Penix is only a modest risk at No. 23, he would pretty clearly be a low-risk, high-reward option for the Steelers in the second round.

How Penix Potentially Fits With Steelers

Penix’s deep-ball ability makes him an intriguing fit for the Steelers. Big plays in the Pittsburgh passing attack were obviously missing until Mason Rudolph entered the starting lineup.

But free agency will probably greatly impact whether the Steelers are interested in signal callers from the 2024 draft class.

While on “The Ramon Foster Show”, Rudolph said Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan expressed an interest in re-signing him.

The Steelers have also been connected to countless quarterbacks — Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill — in free agency.

A trade for a signal caller isn’t out of the question either. NFL pundits have floated the Steelers as a possible destination for Justin Fields.

If the Steelers make a big move behind center prior to the draft, then quarterback won’t be a priority on draft weekend.

However, if the Steelers only re-sign Rudolph, and a quarterback prospect such as Penix is available after the first round, it’s certainly possible Pittsburgh adds a quarterback on Day 2 of the draft.

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