February 22, 2024

Steelers land future franchise QB in latest mock draft

The Steelers have some big decisions to make at quarterback this offseason, but CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson believes their next franchise quarterback could fall to them in his latest mock draft.

With pick No. 20 in the 2024 NFL Draft, Wilson has Pittsburgh selecting Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

“The Steelers hired a new OC in Arthur Smith, which is good news for this offense,” Wilson writes. “Still, if they don’t think Kenny Pickett is the long-term solution, Penix Jr. could (should?) be a consideration here.”

Penix Jr. would be an intriguing option if he were to fall. The Washington product threw for 9,544 yards, 66 touchdowns and 19 interceptions from 2022-23 while leading the Huskies to a College Football National Championship game appearance.

If Pittsburgh is still all in, or at least mostly in, on QB Kenny Pickett, it feels unlikely it’ll use its first-round pick on another quarterback. Adding Penix Jr. would further hurt the confidence of Pickett, who was already benched for QB Mason Rudolph to finish the 2023 season.

Owner Art Rooney II did say the team would bring in more competition for Pickett next season. However, whether that’s in the form of a rookie or veteran remains to be seen.

“We still feel comfortable with Kenny,” Rooney II told reporters. “But we can’t discount what Mason [Rudolph] did and can’t discount the fact that having competition at quarterback will be good for everybody.”

Nonetheless, the Steelers can’t run it back with the same quarterback room. Pickett has thrown for just 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 25 games and Mitchell Trubisky is overpaid as the No. 3 QB.

Penix Jr. could be the missing piece to Pittsburgh’s young and talented offense, which has ranked as one of the worst units over the past couple of years.

It’s time for the Steelers to start winning some meaningful games or the noise will only continue to get louder. Rooney II agrees.

“We’ve had enough of this. It’s time to get some wins,” Rooney II said. “It’s time to take these next steps. There’s some urgency there, for sure.”