General manager Kevin Colbert has said all along that the Steelers will have four quarterbacks when they begin training camp this summer. Two of the quarterbacks would be Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins, and the third quarterback would be either a rookie or an established veteran. The fourth quarterback, which was initially thought to be nothing more than a "camp arm," could very well be the 20th overall pick in next month's draft.
Despite acquiring former Pro Bowler Mitchell Trubisky last week, the Steelers are clearly still open to using their first-round pick on another quarterback. On Monday, Pittsburgh's brass stayed in town to check out Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett's pro day. On Tuesday, Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Matt Canada were among Pittsburgh's contingent who traveled to Liberty to take in Malik Willis' pro day. Willis said that he and Tomlin had dinner together the previous evening, and based on Willis' quotes, it's clear that he enjoyed his dining experience with the Steelers' longtime coach.
"It was cool. He's a normal dude, that's what you want," Willis said of Tomlin. "He was a normal dude, eating his chicken wings over there. I was like, 'Mike Tomlin eats chicken wings?' I felt like that was cool, too."
Did Willis partake in any wing eating himself?
"I ain't going to lie, I love chicken wings, so I was eating those myself," Willis said. "With the crab fries, that was fire."
"Fire" can also be used to sum up Willis' time at Liberty. Projected as a first-round pick, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Willis had a successful run at Liberty after initially beginning his college career at Auburn. During his two seasons at Liberty, Willis completed 62.4% of his passes with 47 touchdowns against 18 interceptions. He was also lethal on the ground, with 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns and a 5.4 yards per carry average.
By all accounts, Willis enjoyed a successful Pro Day while showcasing his ability to connect on deep passes.
While he possesses considerable talent, Willis is not considered to be an immediate starter at the NFL level, which means Trubisky (assuming he wins the position battle this summer) could potentially be a bridge between Ben Roethlisberger and Willis in the event the Steelers do draft him with the 20th overall pick. That would also require Willis lasting that long in the draft, as three of our CBS Sports NFL Draft experts currently have Willis being taking with the ninth overall pick. None of our experts have Willis lasting until the 20th pick.
Half of our experts have the Steelers using the pick on former Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ritter, who this past fall led the Bearcats to an undefeated regular season. Ryan Wilson has the Steelers instead using the pick on Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis, while Kyle Stackpole has Pittsburgh using its first-round pick to acquire former Michigan safety Daxton Hill. Both Davis and Hill would help the Steelers fill their current voids on the defensive line and in the secondary.
Receiver is another position the Steelers have yet to address in free agency, but based on the fact that they currently have Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, along with Colbert's long history of finding gems at the position in later rounds, Pittsburgh may wait until the second or third round to add to its receiving corps. The Steelers are also in need of more depth at offensive tackle after waiving Zach Banner earlier this month. Pittsburgh gave itself some flexibility there by re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor to an extension.
Pittsburgh's successful free agency has put the team in position to draft a quarterback in the first round if it so desires. The Steelers have used free agency to bolster their center/guard, cornerback and quarterback positions.
The acquisition of Trubisky, who is eager to get started in Pittsburgh after spending a year as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo, has put the Steelers in a favorable situation as it relates to the draft. With Trubisky in tow, Pittsburgh doesn't have to select a quarterback in the first round. But if they are convinced that Willis is worth selecting (and possibly trading up for), the Steelers will certainly pull the trigger while giving them an extremely deep quarterback room for the upcoming season.