What Are The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Team Needs In The 2022 NFL Draft?

The 2022 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 28. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position is in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2022 NFL Draft hub.

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What Picks do the Pittsburgh Steelers have in 2022

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seven picks.

Round 1 (20)
Round 2 (52)
Round 3 (84)
Round 4 (138)
Round 6 (208)
Round 7 (225)
Round 7 (241)

Pittsburgh Steelers Top POSITIONS OF NEED

Long-term QB, LT, WR, EDGE, S

Pittsburgh Steelers Strength of Schedule, 2022

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the sixth hardest NFL strength of schedule for the 2022 NFL season.

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense

By Rich Hribar


Mitchell Trubisky
Mason Rudolph

With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are on to the next phase in attempting find their next franchise quarterback. 

With only Mason Rudolph as an in-house option, Pittsburgh went out and added Mitchell Trubisky to open free agency

Trubisky may not be the long-term answer, but he does come with rushing ability, something that offensive coordinator Matt Canada wants to have and could not use with Roethlisberger. Only Tampa Bay had fewer dropbacks outside of the pocket than the Steelers in 2021.

Roethlisberger also used play-action on just 18.5% of his dropbacks, 36th in the league, while Roethlisberger was fourth in the league in dropbacks using shotgun. We will see a different offense in Pittsburgh in 2021 using more movement pre-snap and utilizing Trubisky’s mobility.

Trubisky also does not prevent the Steelers from taking a quarterback if one that they are high on is available. Trubisky only carries a dead cap hit of $2.6 million in 2023 if the Steelers need to move on, while his $10.6 million cap hit overall in 2023 is palatable for a backup since Rudolph is only signed for this upcoming season.


Najee Harris
Benny Snell
Anthony McFarland
Trey Edmunds
Derek Watt (FB)

The Steelers selected Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in last year’s draft and leaned on him to carry the backfield right out of the packaging. 

Harris played 170 more offensive snaps (980 in total) than the next closest running back. As a byproduct, he led all backs with 381 touches and 74 receptions. On a per-game basis, he ranked second and fifth in those categories. 

While the Steelers have been a one-back system under Mike Tomlin any time the opportunity has presented itself, the depth behind Harris is rather lackluster, with only Anthony McFarland signed beyond 2022. Although recent mid-to-late picks in Benny Snell and McFarland have not worked out, the Steelers could use a late pick at the position or sign an undrafted back.


Diontae Johnson
Chase Claypool
Gunner Olszewski
Anthony Miller
Steven Sims
Cody White
Rico Bussey
Tyler Vaughns

Only the Bills and Rams targeted their wide receivers more times per game than the Steelers did in 2021 (24.5 targets). Despite the high volume, the nature of the Pittsburgh offense limited the wideouts to ranking 12th in yardage per game (162.9 yards), 22nd in success rate per target (52%), and 29th in yards per target (7.0).

Diontae Johnson had another strong season, catching 107 passes for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnson has now amassed a gaudy 313 targets over the past two seasons. 

While some of the overall girth of targets can be credited to the limitations of the offense and late-career Roethlisberger, do not let that cloud the fact that Johnson is one of the league’s best wide receivers at getting open on his own merit as well.

But is Johnson someone the Steelers are going to pay top-dollar for on an extension?

That decision is incoming as he enters the final season of his rookie contract.

Chase Claypool did not take the step many had hoped in Year 2, especially after the Steelers lost JuJu-Smith Schuster so early in the season. 

Claypool remained stagnant to his rookie efficiency, posting nearly identical catch rate (56.2%), yards per catch (14.6), and yardage per game (57.3 yards). 

The one thing he did not roll over from his rookie season was finding the end zone. After 11 trips to the paint in 2020, Claypool scored just two times last season. 

Claypool’s lack of sophomore jump was not entirely Roethlisberger related, which is what makes him an intriguing case moving forward. Claypool has struggled to separate through two years in the league and has struggled to win in contested catch situations, which is a combustible combination. 

37.7% of Claypool’s targets last season were contested catches, which was sixth in the league. He secured 17-of-41 (41.5%), which was 27th out of 35 wide receivers with 20 or more contested targets.

Claypool’s rookie season touchdown total and production are more than enough to keep the lights on with a new quarterback while he still has two affordable years left on his rookie contract.

After Johnson and Claypool, the depth here is rough. Outside of Claypool, only Gunner Olszewski is under contract beyond 2022.

Even without factoring in the decision to be made on extending or franchise tagging Johnson after 2022, the Steelers have a need here at the wide receiver position.


Pat Freiermuth
Zach Gentry
Jace Sternberger
Kevin Rader

Pat Freiermuth caught 60-of-79 targets for 497 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, coming on as the season progressed and the Steelers lost Eric Ebron to injury. 

With Ebron out, Freiermuth averaged 4.1 receptions per game, running a route on 67.6% of the team dropbacks and receiving 14.6% of the team targets. 

Tight end is not a need with Freiermuth on a rookie contract, but he is the only tight end on the roster signed beyond this upcoming season if the team feels like they need contractual depth.


LT: Dan Moore/Joe Haeg
LG: Kevin Dotson/John Leglue/Malcolm Pridgeon
C: Kendrick Green/Mason Cole/JC Hassenauer
RG: James Daniels/Kendrick Green/Nate Gilliam
RT: Chukwuma Okorafor/Chaz Green

The Pittsburgh offensive line performed as poorly as expected entering the season. They ended the year 31st in the league in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (49%) and 30th in Run Block Win Rate (67%). 

Pro Football Focus had them higher in pass blocking grade (15th), but also at the bottom of team run blocking grade (26th).

The team selected Dan Moore in the fourth round last year and threw him right into the fire. Moore was second on the team in snaps played (1,147) on the offensive line as a day three rookie. Moore played 99% of those snaps at left tackle and graded out as the 75th best tackle per Pro Football Focus, allowing a 6.9% pressure rate, which was nearly double that of the next highest player on the line. Adding a left tackle with draft capital is still wide open.

Trai Turner led this offensive line in snaps a year ago at right guard. Still a free agent, the Steelers have replaced him with James Daniels. Daniels is an upgrade, grading out as the 19th best guard per Pro Football Focus while Turner was 31st. 

Locked in starters Daniels and Chukwuma Okorafor are all under contract for multiple seasons after Okorafor signed a three-year extension. The rest of the three positions should all have open competition with what is on hand and what can still be added during the draft.

Pittsburgh selected Kendrick Green in the third round last year and also threw him right into the lineup. Green started 15 games and played 96% of the snaps in those games. Green also took his rookie lumps, grading out 35th among 40 qualifying centers per Pro Football Focus. 

The team also added veteran Mason Cole at center, who started 21 games for the Vikings the past two years as insurance for Green in Year 2. Cole allowed a pressure rate of 8.1%, the highest rate among all centers with 100 or pass blocking snaps in 2021. 

Left guard Kevin Dotson had a strong rookie season, but an ankle injury limited him to just nine games last season and impacted his play. After grading out as the 29th ranked guard in 2020, Dotson was 51st in 2021. 

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Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

By Dan Pizzuta

Interior Defensive Line

Cameron Heyward
Stephon Tuitt
Tyson Alualu
Chris Wormley
Isaiahh Loudermilk
Henry Mondeaux
Carlos Davis
Montravius Adams
Daniel Archibong
Khalil Davis

Cameron Heyward is still running strong heading into Year 12. Heyward was ninth among interior defenders in pressure rate, per SIS. Heyward had two fewer quarterback hits than he did in 2020 but picked up six more sacks. Heyward signed a four-year extension in 2020 that has him under contract through 2024 and age-35.

Stephon Tuitt missed all of 2021 recovering from a knee injury and dealing with a death in the family. He’s under contract for 2022 but his status remains up in the air.

Chris Wormley exploded with seven sacks but that came on only 10 quarterback hits. He didn’t have a high pressure rate (52nd among interior defenders) but he was a presence in the backfield with six tackles for loss. He’s on the second year of a two-year deal.

Tyson Alualu had an under-the-radar dominant 2020 but only made it through two games in 2021.


T.J. Watt
Alex Highsmith
Genard Avery
John Simon
Derrek Tuszka
Delontae Scott

T.J. Watt was fifth in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate and second among edge rushers in pressure rate, per SIS — first if you remove Micah Parsons. He had a league-leading 22.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

Alex Highsmith had his shot at stepping in as the No. 2 pass rusher and there were some promising results. Highsmith was 37th among edge rushers in pressure rate and he managed 15 quarterback hits. He was two years remaining on his rookie deal.

The depth behind those two raises some questions. Genard Avery has bounced between EDGE and off-ball linebacker and given the depth charts of the two positions, he’s in line to rush the passer a bit more with Pittsburgh. He did that on 49% of his pass snaps with the Eagles last season.

Off-ball Linebacker

Devin Bush
Myles Jack
Robert Spillane
Marcus Allen
Ulysees Gilbert
Buddy Johnson
Tegray Scales

Devin Bush hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft pick pedigree. Coming off an injury that cost him most of the 2020 season, he was 59th among 85 qualified linebackers in yards allowed per coverage snap. Bush has a 2023 fifth-year option looming, but that is likely to be declined.

The Steelers brought in Myles Jack after he was released by the Jaguars. Jack was 38th in yards allowed per coverage snap and does have more sideline-to-sideline juice against the run than Bush. He signed for a two-year deal but with an $11.25 million cap hit in 2023, he’d have to play extremely well for the Steelers to not cut bait and open up $8 million in cap space after 2022.

That could put the Steelers looking for two starting linebackers in 2023.


Cameron Sutton
Levi Wallace
Ahkello Witherspoon
Justin Layne
James Pierre
Linden Stephens
Isaiah Johnson

Cameron Sutton ranked 56th among cornerbacks in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap, which accounts for touchdowns and interceptions. He bounced around behind playing outside and in the slot — he led the team in coverage snaps at both places.

The second cornerback spot will go to Levi Wallace, one of the most underrated free agents signing this offseason. Wallace played incredibly well with the Buffalo Bills and was 10th among corners in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap.

Ahkello Witherspoon only played 31.6% of the defensive snaps but he flashed when he was on the field with easily the lowest Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap while he was the most targeted corner on a per-snap basis. He re-signed for two more years through 2024.


Minkah Fitzpatrick
Tre Norwood
Miles Killebrew
Karl Joseph
Donovan Stiner

Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t have the same turnover magic as he displayed in his first two seasons with the Steelers. He was much more of a clean-up tackler than an impact defender in the secondary. How his play shifts in 2022 will be big because this will be the final year of his contract.

Terrell Edmunds is a free agent after his fifth-year option was declined. There is reportedly an offer out to him to return, but it’s unclear if he would play as often in the same role, even if he came back on a significantly reduced deal.

Tre Norwood, a 2021 seventh-round pick, could be the name to watch here. He played 33% of the defensive snaps and has experience covering in the slot. He had four passes defensed in his limited time as a rookie.

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