5 players Steelers should draft in the first round

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Panthers. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Panthers. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft, Sam Howell
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 06: Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks to pass against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 58-55. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

4. Sam Howell

Howell and his North Carolina team came into the season with massive preseason expectations but things didn’t turn out as planned. It’s not that Howell didn’t have a good season, he just didn’t produce the sort of prolific campaign that some scouts were looking for.

That’s why Howell is likely going to be available in the back half of Round 1 rather than the top 10. He’s got good arm strength and reasonable accuracy but he’s not elite in either regard.

Arguably his most intriguing skill at the next level is his ability to tuck the ball and run when there’s no spy left to contain him in the pocket. He possesses surprising quickness given his stocky build. That size also allows him to absorb hits without too much concern about his durability.

Howell has a relatively high floor as a prospect but nothing about his game leads scouts to believe he has All-Pro potential. The Steelers might be satisfied with the safety level of Howell at No. 20, but Pittsburgh fans should hope for their favorite team to shoot for more upside.