PITTSBURGH – The Steelers, as usual, have been mostly coy about their upcoming draft plans. But, based off what we’ve seen and heard, it’s logical to assume they’d love to snag Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the 20th overall pick in the draft.
There are 14 other teams that could choose Willis before the Steelers pick at No. 20, but realistically, only about five or six of those teams could be looking to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick.
One of those teams is the Atlanta Falcons. Per NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe, the Falcons are at a crossroads when it comes to what they want to do with the eighth overall pick. They are a team with multiple needs and they’ll have a shot at some of the top players at their respective positions.
One of those players, obviously, is Willis. Per Wolfe, there hasn’t been much buzz regarding Willis at No. 8, but he is in fact a guy the Falcons like. The eighth pick could very well play out to a best player available situation and if Willis is there, he could certainly be the top guy on the Falcons’ draft board.
Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot didn’t do anything Tuesday with his comments regarding the quarterback position, either.
“We want to add to that room,” Fontenot said, referring to the Falcons’ quarterback room.
Atlanta did sign Marcus Mariota after trading Matt Ryan to the Colts and Mariota does have experience playing head coach Arthur Smith’s system, however, Mariota hasn’t shown the ability to consistently carry a team from the quarterback position. And, he’s only in town on a two-year deal that’s very manageable/team-friendly from the Falcons’ point of view. They can part ways with Mariota after 2022, so he’s nowhere near a long-term solution.
The Steelers have Mitch Trubisky on the roster, but he’s in practically the same category as Mariota: A bridge quarterback with high upside on a team-friendly deal.
Every team hopes to find their franchise quarterback in the draft and the Steelers and Falcons both said goodbye to their franchise QBs this offseason. Neither franchise wants to see what life is like without a top-notch signal-caller, but one franchise has a clear advantage over the other when it comes to their positioning for said signal-caller.
Granted, the Steelers will still be able to address other needs with quality players at No. 20. Positions like the defensive line, cornerback, offensive line, and even safety can be taken care of. Losing out on Willis wouldn’t be the end of the world, at the end of the day.
But missing out on the possibility of a new world with a new franchise quarterback, which is never a good feeling. Especially if you like the player.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports