A look at what we expect the Steelers to do with the 24th pick from our staff, to the local media, and the national draft analysts.
We are counting down the final minutes before the Steelers make their first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. With everyone presenting the final editions of their mock drafts, I compiled a list of as many mock drafts as I could. Before you is a hub of every local, and national media members 24th picks as well as the stuff from us here at Behind the Steel Curtain. Check it out!
National Media Mocks:
Todd McShay: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Teven Jenkins is tempting here. He’s a mauler on the offensive line, and the Steelers must rebuild that unit from the ground up. Ultimately, I went in a different direction because the lineman class is deep — I have more than a dozen in this mock — and running back is just as much of a concern. Harris is a powerful back who is nearly impossible to stop between the tackles. The Steelers’ 3.6 yards per carry ranked dead last in the NFL last season, and it doesn’t appear that James Conner is returning, currently leaving the rushing to an unproven group of Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage and Jaylen Samuels. Let’s get an impact running back.
My Steelers pick for the ESPN NFL Nation Mock Draft…Najee Harris, RB, Alabama pic.twitter.com/cyGtcqWvcl
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 28, 2021
Mel Kiper: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
“The Steelers could go with an offensive lineman here, as center Maurkice Pouncey retired, tackle Matt Feiler left in free agency and free-agent tackle Alejandro Villanueva is still unsigned. But I’d love to see Harris in this offense to take the pressure off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He could grind down defenses as a runner and help in the short passing game. If Harris goes in Round 1, he’ll be the fifth Alabama running back picked in the first round since 2000. The others: Josh Jacobs (2019), Trent Richardson (2012), Mark Ingram (2011) and Shaun Alexander (2000). Notably absent is Derrick Henry, who was a second-round pick in 2016 and somehow just had an underrated 2,000-yard campaign.”
Bucky Brooks: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Adding speed and athleticism to an already-fast defense would give the Steelers a decided advantage over opponents opting to spread it out. Davis is a playmaker with instincts, awareness and ball-hawk ability.
Daniel Jeremiah: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
There’s a lot of buzz about Najee Harris going to the Steelers, but Pittsburgh opts to fill a hole on the front five before finding a running back to help an offense that ranked last in rushing in 2020.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSessler) April 28, 2021
Peter Schrager: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
There hasn’t been as much press for Stokes as we’ve seen for some of the other top corners in this draft, but he can definitely play. Perhaps the fastest CB in this class, he can cover a ton of ground. Pittsburgh could address its run game woes in Rounds 2-4
Chad Reuter: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Humphrey has everything a team would want in a center: He has strong hands (from his wrestling days), is athletic enough to move in space as well as provide plus pass protection, and will be the leader of the line. The Steelers need that sort of guy to replace the retired Maurkice Pouncey.
Charley Casserly: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for Fields to develop behind a Hall of Fame quarterback for a year before taking over the offense.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Missouri
As much as Pittsburgh needs help along the O-line and in the backfield, Mike Tomlin can’t help but draft a pass rusher resembling the departed Bud Dupree. Ojulari is great at the point of contact and should be a Day 1 contributor.
Rhett Lewis: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The immense need along the offensive line and GM Kevin Colbert’s admission this offseason that the run game must improve would seem to trump the Steelers’ recent trend of going defense in the first round. (Offensive guard David DeCastro, selected back in 2012, was the last offensive player taken in Round 1 by Pittsburgh.) Jenkins isn’t a perfect prospect, but a nasty run blocker could be just what the doctor ordered to help bring the rushing attack back to Steelers standards as the team tries to get another year out of veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Ryan Wilson: Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State
The Steelers could go OL, RB or CB here. But given the way the board fell they opt for pass rusher. Oweh is raw but has the physical tools the Steelers covet, and in a few years we could be talking about him the way we were talking about Bud Dupree once he grew into his role.
Chris Trapasso: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley falls slightly, and given the state of their older secondary, the Steelers can’t pass on the Virginia Tech defensive back here.
Josh Edwards: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Pittsburgh lands one of the best left tackle prospects in this draft class. He is a really poised player that can be a stabilizing presence on an offensive line in flux.
Pete Prisco: Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Their line is a mess. They have to get a left tackle and Cosmi has the tools to be a good, solid starter. They also have right tackle Zach Banner coming off a torn ACL. So offensive line is what it should be, even if running back might be tempting.
Peter King: Najee Harris, running back, Alabama
It’s been 13 years since the Steelers took a back in the first round (Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois, 23rd pick, 2008), and I think they’d consider the speedy Travis Etienne here also. They could go Teven Jenkins or Sam Cosmi here because of major tackle need, but alarm bells must be clanging in the head of draft czar Kevin Colbert after the miserable time Pittsburgh had in the run game last year. In seven of their last 11 games, the Steelers managed less than 55 rushing yards, and their season fell off a cliff.
The all-time leading Alabama rusher and touchdown-scorer, Harris isn’t the home-rush threat of Etienne, but he doesn’t shy from contact, runs between the tackles fluidly, and is the kind of bellcow back the Steelers have been seeking since Le’Veon Bell left. I’m not a big fan of running backs in the first round, and if the Steelers go tackle here, that’s fine. But spending big on a big need would be smart, which is why I like Harris here.
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) April 27, 2021
Mike Florio: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State.
The Steelers are all in on trying to win in 2021, but will they be able to say no to a guy who could take the baton from Ben Roethlisberger? I’ve heard they’ll take Alabama running back Najee Harris or Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins in this spot. But if Lance slides, Art Rooney will have to decide whether to give his third coach since 1969 the team’s fourth first-round quarterback since 1970.
Tony Pauline: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
They made a mistake passing on J.K. Dobbins last April. Najee Harris is a natural fit and a Day 1 starter.
WalterFootball: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers want a bellcow back. Can you blame them? They had no running game to speak of last year. Najee Harris would obviously change that, though the offensive line is in need of a major overhaul as well.
Local Media Mocks:
Dale Lolley: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris can run it. He’s a talented receiver. He’s exactly what the Steelers have been missing.
Chris Carter: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
That’s the home run pick for the Steelers when it comes to value at 24. Harris is the top back of this class and running back is the top need on the Steelers’ depth chart.
Mike Prisuta: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
He doesn’t play running back, center or offensive tackle, but given all Collins can do for a Steelers’ defense that’s more vulnerable as currently constructed than many are probably willing to admit, he might well be more impactful. Collins is perhaps as fluid as an almost 6-foot-5, 260-or-so-pound athlete can get. And he can impact the Steelers lining up next to Devin Bush at inside linebacker on first and second down (how are Devin White and Lavonte David working out for Tampa Bay?), as a rotational edge rusher on third down and on special teams.
Ray Fittipaldo: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris could have entered the draft after his junior season, but he returned and improved his draft stock. He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and scored 46 touchdowns during his four-year college career, including 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns in a standout senior campaign that ended with a national championship. What makes him a coveted player in the draft is his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield and pass protect. Harris caught 70 passes for 729 yards the past two seasons. He never has to come off the field and can be the next “bell cow” Mike Tomlin always wants in his feature back.
Ed Bouchette: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Behind The Athletics paywall
Mark Kaboly: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Behind The Athletics paywall
Behind the Steel Curtain mocks:
SB Nation Editors: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
A defender like Collins will make the loss of Bud Dupree less painful, but will also add an element to the defense the Steelers’ already rock solid defense even better. On top of that, Collins is the type of player who can help the defense from Day 1, and an immediate impact player is just what the Steelers needed from their first round draft pick.
BTSC staff draft: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Jenkins may be the safest pick at this point, and given his penchant for being a brawler on running plays, he could be the best fit for what the Steelers want their offense to be under Matt Canada.
So who do you think has it right? Who do you think the Steelers will take in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft? Time will tell but let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.