Ranking Josh Allen among the QBs of the AFC before 2022 NFL Draft
By Khari Demos
13. Mitchell Trubisky (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The 2021 season was a rehabbing process for the 2017 No. 2 overall pick. After an up-and-down stint in Chicago (29-21 record, 64 TD passes, 37 INTs, 87.2 passer rating, 64% completion rate, 1,057 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs), Trubisky decided to backup the emerging Josh Allen in Buffalo.
I really don’t blame him for the move. First of all, it was the first time Trubisky looked like he had a viable play-caller. Yes, this is a direct shot at Matt Nagy.
Personally, I feel as though he held Trubisky back, rather than the inverse; just look at how he limited Justin Fields at times last year.
But before I go off on that tangent, back to Trubisky and his time with the Buffalo Bills. Although it was just the preseason, the UNC product looked like a different QB when he faced his former Bears team while Brian Daboll called plays for the Buffalo Bills. And although he won’t have Daboll joining him in Pittsburgh, as the former OC took over the New York Giants, Trubisky could be in line for a much better situation ahead with the Steelers.
As Trubisky looks to play in the shadow of Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has a pretty good group of targets, even after the departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Diontae Johnson is coming off his first-ever Pro Bowl season, Chase Claypool still seems like an untapped commodity, and Pat Freiermuth comes back at tight end after a strong showing as a rookie.
Let us not forget about RB Najee Harris, who also made the Pro Bowl with 1,667 yards from scrimmage and 10 total scores as a rookie.
The Steelers will also get help on the o-line after a porous 2021 campaign. Mason Cole and James Daniels should both improve Pittsburgh’s interior upfront, which will help protect Trubisky after the Steelers gave up 38 sacks a year ago.
This listing is more of a projection, but I think it can hit its peak for Trubisky if a few different things happen. The first will be improving on his accuracy.
During his last stretch as a starter in Chicago, the former first-rounder ranked 22nd in the league in on-target throw rate (75.8%), and in his final two seasons there in 2019 and 2020, he ranked 10th and 11th highest in the NFL, respectively, in poor throws rate.
His career-worst mark for poor-throws rate in 2018 (18.4%) also ranked sixth highest in the league that year.
And if you look back at Trubisky’s 2018 season, where he virtually had career-high numbers across the board and led the Bears to a 12-4 mark and the NFC North title, the one aspect of his game that stood out was his mobility. His 421 rushing yards that year ranked fifth amongst QBs behind Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson, and Cam Newton.
In 2018 and 2020, Trubisky averaged 8.9 and 9.8 yards per scramble, respectively. He may not be the same guy as the players mentioned in that grouping above, but Trubisky must remember his running ability is his superpower.
The one last key for the former Tar Heel has played best with good defensive play. Trubisky’s ’18 season was also aided by a Bears defense that was ranked No. 3 in the NFL and was Top 10 in myriad categories.
Trubisky may not be the guy to throw on his cape and save his team from a play-in, play-out standpoint. But he’s good enough to play complementary football.
You’ve got to remember too, Trubisky is still developing after only starting in 13 games at North Carolina. So maybe we haven’t even seen him hit his prime yet as he enters his age-28 season.