A certain NFL head coach made his presence felt during Ohio State's pro day. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was seen throughout the event chatting with the school's top draft prospects. Among the Buckeyes Tomlin was seen speaking with was quarterback Justin Fields, a surefire first-round pick in this year's draft.
Tomlin's interaction with Fields on March 30 created a stir on social media, as a certain percentage of the team's fan base would like to see the Steelers spend a high draft pick on a quarterback. Those feelings were intensified after Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan posted a video from Ohio State's pro day that showed Tomlin and Fields having a brief exchange before Fields' pro day.
"You know who we came to see!" Tomlin said to Fields, who replied with a "Yes, sir."
Fields did not disappoint Tomlin or the other NFL coaches and scouts who made the trip to Columbus. During his pro day, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound Fields ran an impressive 4.43 in the 40-yard dash. He also threw an array of impressive passes that included this 65-yard bomb that drew applause from seemingly everyone in attendance. Fields will throw again on Wednesday, 15 days before the start of the 2021 draft.
Owners of the 24th overall pick, the Steelers would likely have to move up in the first round in order to have a chance at selecting Fields. Each of our four CBS Sports NFL experts have Fields being taken sometime during the first nine picks.
Given their other needs at running back and on the offensive line, it's highly unlikely that the Steelers would trade up to take a quarterback. It can't be entirely ruled out, however, as the Steelers do have a history of trading up in the first round during Kevin Colbert's time as the team's general manager. Colbert traded up to acquire Troy Polamalu in the 2003 draft. Three years later, he traded up to select future Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. In 2019, the Steelers moved up 10 spots to acquire linebacker Devin Bush. The odds are slim, but if Fields somehow falls out of the top 10, don't be surprised if the Steelers begin to make some phone calls. And if Fields somehow falls to the 24th pick (similar to what happened with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers in 2005), the Steelers would he hard-pressed not to take Fields, even if that means waiting another round to address more pressing needs.
The Steelers quarterback room currently consists of Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, and Dwayne Haskins. Roethlisberger and Rudolph are both entering the final year of their contracts, while Haskins was recently signed to a one-year deal. Roethlisberger's future beyond 2021 is anyone's guess. Rudolph, who is 5-4 as the Steelers starter, has not been ruled out as Big Ben's successor if Roethlisberger decides to retire after the upcoming season. The Steelers are also intrigued with Haskins, a former first-round pick who is looking to make the most of his second chance.
If nothing else, Tomlin's interactions with Fields has opened a line of communication that may pay off somewhere down the line. Connections are certainly a good thing in today's NFL, where players move on from teams more frequently than ever before.