The Steelers are in talks with Malik Willis, which could be interesting news for the Vikings.

Malik Willis

The momentum of the Minnesota Vikings returning on draft day has grown in recent weeks as the players most commonly associated with the team, Ahmad Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr., may not be in play with the 12th total choice. These two players might be ‘too good’.

One possible takeover partner is the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that could be in the market for a QB1 following Ben Roethlisberger’s 2021 retirement.

And on Wednesday, Pittsburgh will officially chat with Malik Willis, a man predicted as the first or second quarterback on the board in this year’s draft.

Willis is a mobile Liberty quarterback, tied to Jay Cutler-style arm strength with Jalen Hurts-type mobility — not a bad mix. Like every year, quarterbacks are climbing the draft machine, and Willis is one of the benefactors in 2022.

In March, the Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky for either QB1 or QB2 duty, but no one knows which number will follow the acronym. Pittsburgh, for now, is telling the world its plan at quarterback is Mitchell Trubisky. But is it more likely that the Steelers are actually considering introducing Trubisky as QB1, or is the idea to replace the man with a rookie passer like Malik Willis?

October 17, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Nett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Should the game plan become the latter, the Vikings would be sensible business partners. In the event that Atlanta and Carolina choose not to draft Willis, there is a reasonable chance that Willis will fall to the Vikings draft. Then, in theory, the Steelers could pick up the phone, dangle draft picks ahead of the Vikings, and a trade could take place.

The Vikings are in a unique draft spot where Willis or Kenny Pickett could “be there” at No. 12.

December 26, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice – USA TODAY Sports

New GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah checks some boxes. Vikings could stand to go a little deeper on the depth chart, Adofo-Mensah preached value about a dozen times since joining the franchise, and one exchange merges the two mindsets.

The Steelers hold the 20th, 52nd and 84th picks in the draft, so a combination of those assets should see Mike Tomlin and his pals move from No. 20 to No. 12.

Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah can stick with picking the best available player at No. 12 (likely a cornerback or EDGE) or trade to a different team like the Chargers, Saints or Chiefs.

But we know the Steelers have their eye on Willis — and that’s important if Minnesota is looking to trade.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).

Vikings Eye Gopher in the NFL Draft