The Steelers added a lot of players to their roster on the last day of the draft.
The Steelers Stock Report is here to give you updates on trends and events that are likely to affect the team in the future. With 6 players selected on the third and final day of the 2021 NFL Draft, let’s take a look at how that affects the team.
Stock Up: James Pierre and Justin Layne
The Steelers have four cornerbacks on the roster with on-field experience in their defense. Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne and James Pierre. It was assumed the Steelers would need to add multiple defensive backs in the draft, or at least a mid-round pick that could play significant snaps in their rookie season.
Instead the Steelers added a 7th round “Swiss Army Knife” utility defensive back and several undrafted free agents. With Justin Layne 3 days away from a hearing on felony gun charges, the Steelers showed remarkable faith in the ability of James Pierre to be the #3 corner, as his competition is uncertain at best. This may also show that the Steelers think Layne’s legal problems will not interrupt his career.
Stock Down: Joe Haeg
Joe Haeg signed with the Steelers to backup both offensive tackle spots. After drafting Dan Moore Jr. from Texas A&M Adrian Klemm stated that they do not see Moore as a developmental prospect, but plan to throw him into competition for a role from the very start. That’s not great news for Joe Haeg, who not only has increased competition for his spot, but also has the specter of the compensatory pick calculations over his head, as cutting Haeg could help the Steelers secure a pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Stock Up: Competition in the trenches
The Steelers added Kendrick Green in day two of the draft, but in day 3 they added a tackle in Dan Moore Jr., and then invested in an inside linebacker, a position that seems to have significant depth. Significantly deep is an understatement for the defensive line position, with seven lineman returning that played snaps in 2020, and yet that didn’t stop the Steelers from trading a 2022 4th round pick to acquire Isaiahh Loudermilk in the 5th round. They also added Quincy Roche at outside linebacker in the sixth round. It is clear the Steelers want a lot of competition in their front seven on defense and on the offensive line.
Stock Down: Vince Williams
The inside linebacker the Steelers acquired in the 4th round is Buddy Johnson from Texas A&M, a team leader that also led the team in tackles. Johnson is a smaller linebacker and a high testing athlete (9.22 RAS) but he isn’t a coverage linebacker, he’s more of a Buck linebacker, and the “more athletic version of Vince Williams” we have been expecting the Steelers to look for.
Buddy Johnson may start the season as primarily a special teams contributor, but he will compete for snaps, and push the Steelers 2nd longest tenured defender for playing time.
Stock Up: Attitude
The Steelers cited the competitive “nasty” attitude of their 3rd round pick Kendrick Green, then continued to draft players and cite their personality and attitude as important factors. The Steelers were clearly targeting players with a little more nastiness in their game, and it may be a reaction to the way the Steelers took an entire half to recover from the botched snap touchdown in their Wild Card game. The Steelers focused on finding players that are team leaders with a little more fight in them, and I don’t think it is a coincidence.
Stock Down: Jordan Berry
The Steelers always bring in someone to be the second punter for the offseason, but this year they drafted that second punter, and Pressley Harvin III looks more like the future starter than a camp body. Harvin led the NCAA in average punt distance, and among punters with significant punt attempts, came second in net punt yardage. His hang time and distance fit the older NFL style of punter, but he also excels in placement of his punts, which is usually preferred now. For anyone who is a fan of kickers, this summer should provide an interesting match-up between the talented rookie and the veteran who has survived a lot of these competitions.