The road to the 2022 NFL Draft begins with the NFL Combine.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, this year's event will have a level of importance that has not been felt in recent memory. With future hall of famer and Steelers great Ben Roethlisberger now retired, his successor could be one of many quarterback prospects appearing at this year's Combine.
For Steelers fans, who have anxiously awaited for this event to take place since the last one in 2020, here are some players to follow this coming week.
Quarterback Malik Willis - Liberty
At this year's Senior Bowl, both general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin gave Willis their undivided attention, as was the case with almost every NFL team in attendance in Mobile, Alabama during Senior Bowl week. Willis has been featured in several mock drafts as a target for the Steelers, as they continue their search for Roethlisberger's successor. This event should give him the opportunity to display his throwing strength and speed that have made him arguably the top quarterback in this year's draft class.
Tackle Charles Cross - Mississippi State
At 6'5, 315 lbs., Cross is one of the most athletic linemen in this year's draft class. On tape, his foot speed and explosiveness make him a unique specimen. With all this noted, one should not be surprised if he posts one of the fastest times in the 40-yard dash and excels in the broad jump. NFL scouts in attendance will likely be pleased by what they see in Cross.
Linebacker Nakobe Dean - Georgia
This year's group of interior linebackers is surprisingly strong. From this group, Nakobe Dean is arguably the cream of the crop. This year's national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, had the top defensive unit in college football, with Dean as their leader in the middle. His closing speed and acceleration suggest he could be a standout in the 40-year dash, but his strength should not be overlooked. Last season, the Steelers had numerous issues with their interior linebackers. Dean is the type of linebacker that could bring stability and playmaking ability that was missing from them last season.
Defensive tackle Travis Jones - Connecticut
One of the biggest revelations at this year's Senior Bowl was defensive tackle Travis Jones. Jones' draft stock has climbed considerably since the week in Mobile, Alabama, as he dominated one-on-ones during practice week and was a standout in the game. His natural strength should enable him to put up a good number of reps in the bench press, and his quickness should serve him well during the 3-cone drill. For Steelers fans looking for the type of defensive lineman to complement All-Pro Cameron Heyward, Jones could be that guy.