Joe Rutter: If Jordan Davis falls, Steelers will be ready to take him in 1st round of NFL Draft

In the season after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, it would be easy and predictable to target the Pittsburgh Steelers taking a quarterback in the first round.

It really makes too much sense. Scouts and general manager Kevin Colbert heavily scouted the position in the fall. Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin met with the top passers at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and on the pro day circuit. The final stage was bringing the best of the best to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for a top-30 visit.

The Steelers checked off the boxes, doing more homework than a high school valedictorian.

Still, there is a lingering feeling that a quarterback is precisely what the Steelers don’t need in the first round. And perhaps not until the third day. By acting so quickly to sign Mitch Trubisky to compete with Mason Rudolph for the starting job, the Steelers signaled they have their passer for 2022.

Any quarterback taken this year, particularly in the case of Liberty’s Malik Willis, wouldn’t see the field until 2023 at the earliest.

And with the Steelers in their typical win-now mode of operation and facing age issues on the defensive line and depth concerns at wide receiver, they need an immediate starter with the No. 20 overall pick.

The pick here says they go with defensive line and Georgia’s Jordan Davis. Granted, there’s no better than a 20% chance he is still available at No. 20, but the thinking is the Steelers will find a way to get him.

If Davis is gone, the logical pick would have been his Bulldogs teammate Devonte Wyatt, but a domestic violence charge from a few years ago has resurfaced, and the Steelers probably don’t want to be connected to that kind of distraction.

No other defensive linemen are worthy of the 20th pick, so a trade to later in the round would make sense. Connecticut’s Travis Jones could be the selection in that case.

This mock — my one and only of the spring — will be a success if it matches 2021 predictions when I got Najee Harris and Buddy Johnson as correct Steelers selections.

Here goes:

1. (No. 20) – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia: Steelers will keep fingers crossed that he is still on the board. If he is, forget all other options.

2. (No. 52) – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State: He had 91 catches, 1,182 receiving yards and 12 scores last year. He helps fill the loss of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud in free agency.

3. (No. 84) – Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati: With Terrell Edmunds returning for one more year, Cook can spend a year developing and playing special teams. Had two interceptions and nine pass breakups as senior.

4. (No. 138) – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota: His size—he’s 6-foot-8, 384 pounds—draws comparisons to Zach Banner. He just needs to stay healthy.

6. (No. 208) – Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, LSU: The 6-0, 211-pound back could ease Najee Harris’ workload. He led LSU with 1,003 rushing yards and scored six touchdowns in 2021.

7. (No. 225) – Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Michigan: The younger brother of Cameron Heyward would provide a cheaper option to Derek Watt at fullback.

7. (No. 241) – Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State: Steelers finally get their developmental quarterback. He’s 6-1, 212 pounds and completed 71.7% with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2021. He’s the school’s record holder in passing touchdowns and yardage.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at jrutter@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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